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People. People who need people – are the luckiest people in the world, as Barbra Streisand once sang. When we were invited to attend a luncheon in Houston recently that celebrates people who have lived long and full lives, we jumped at the chance to support it. With more than 200 in attendance set inside the jeweled ballroom of the St. Regis Hotel, The Great Age Movement’s first fundraiser spotlighted some of Houston’s most valuable gems. Peter Martino co-chaired the event with Carolyn Farb, and Tony Award-winning actress Liliane Montevecchi. Under the Swarovski crystal lights, in the midst of all of these jewels, Fritz McDonald took center stage.

For almost 20 years, McDonald has served as a geriatric rehabilitation therapist and business owner with a focus on recovery after a catastrophic event. The insight he has gained from a seasoned career is what lead to this moment. “Sadly, senior community programs few and far between in our society,’” shared McDonald. “The patients I've seen over the years often ask what is available to them in the community. I've encouraged many seniors to join organized exercise classes whether at a local gym or through established organizations that offer senior activities. However, a common problem for many seniors is getting to the activity. Many seniors cannot drive even short distances or in some cases, not at all because of medical reasons. We, as a society, must remedy this.”

The event hummed along as Inspirational speeches supporting the Great Age Movement were given by Liliane Montevecchi who stated, “It's so fantastic to get people together and moving. I love this about the Great Age Movement. I am honored to be a part of all of you." Dr. Carolyn Farb mused, "And to quote George Bernard Shaw: We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." Gordon Bethune presented Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proclamation to GAM Founder, Fritz McDonald officially proclaiming that luncheon day as The Great Age Movement Day in Houston, Texas.

Welcome Wilson Sr., received the first G.A.M. Award which honors a senior who exemplifies both personal and civic achievements for the betterment of our society. Wilson’s speech had the crowd rolling in laughter with quotes like, “Time is a great teacher but a horrible beautician!”

International supermodel Carmen Dell'Orefice, unable to attend the event at the last minute due to an injury, expressed her support of the Great Age Movement through a telephone interview with event emcee Ernie Manouse of Houston Public Media. "I'm so excited to be part of a movement that can effect a change for the better for the older generation,” remarked Dell’Orefice, “With an environment like the Great Age Movement wanting to provide and lead the way to show people how to enjoy every day of their life."

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the GAM board members and supporters, silent auction items from Martino, Dell’Orefice, and custom art from Patty Lennon-Potter, just to name a few, as well as gracious sponsorship from Carlson Wagonlit and St. Regis Hotel, Great Age Movement was able to raise over $50,000 from their first event to help build Houston’s first senior playground.

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