Laymond Sanders of Norris City, Ill. joined the U.S. military in 1943.
“I joined the Navy. That’s why the war didn’t last any longer than it did,” he says.
After three years but before the age of 21, Sanders returned to live and raise a family in Southern Illinois. He has been receiving treatment at the Marion VA Medical off and on for the past 46 years.
“I wasn’t going very often,” Sanders states. “At least not up until the last 10 years. Seems like it all hit me all at once.”
During that time, Sanders has had two open heart surgeries and eye cataracts which have led to partial blindness. For the past few years, he has been participating in visual impairment programs sponsored by VA. That’s where he found out about the Golden Age Games where he’s competing in bowling and horseshoes.
“I was told about it (the Golden Age Games) at our blind meeting. We have them once a month and I was told about it. I was told about it last year, but I was told about it too late,” Sanders laments.
Sanders made sure to find out about the Games early this year, turned in his paperwork, and began training with Marion VA Medical Center Recreation Therapist Tim Fischer.
“I first met Laymond when I worked at the Hines Visual Impairment Center in Chicago,” Fischer says. “I’ve been applying the techniques I used there to help him out. For example, color contrast. I have black duct tape at the foul line to help that stand out a little bit more so he knows when to throw the ball and I have little tapes placed as well to divide the lane into sections so I can describe to him where the pins are aligned.”
Practicing with Fischer isn’t the only thing Sanders did to prepare for the Games.
“I keep active,” he explains. “I walk. I mow my lawn. I live on about an acre, you know. I trim my trees. I also cook for myself.”
Sanders says he’s having the time of his life at the Golden Age Games. He recommends that if a Veteran has the chance to participate, to just do it, and “if it costs you a little bit, just give it to them,” he says.
“I think I’ve been treated very nicely up here. The staff at the hotel, the volunteers…especially the volunteers,” Sanders says. “I plan on being back next year.”