Brita Daemgen is up for the national SilverSneakers Swanson Award.
Poinciana resident Brita Daemgen has run the New York Marathon and hiked the Alps.
But now even at 75, there’s no quit in her.
That’s one of the reasons she’s one of 10 national finalists for the SilverSneakers Swanson Award.
SilverSneakers is the nation's leading community fitness program for older Americans. The program was founded in 1992 and is available to more than 16 million Americans.
Daemgen, joined SilverSneakers after retiring and moving from New York to Florida, making many new friends after joining. She was nominated by many of her supporters.
What did Daemgen think when she learned when she was nominated?
“I was very happy. I was glad,” she said. “I had a lot of supporters.”
Daemgen, who came to the U.S. from Germany when she was 32, stays in shape by working out five days a week and actively participating in her community. Even when the pandemic forced gym closures, she found ways to exercise at home or at a park.
“I love just moving,” she said.
She’s had a lifetime of activity. She’s been a dancer, a gymnast, a physical education teacher and an elementary school basketball coach.
She’s also conquered some feats others could not. That would include running the 26.2-mile New York marathon at age 58.
“It was a very interesting experience. I think everyone should do it once, if you can,” she said with a laugh. “It’s hard, but you have to train.”
And then there was hiking the Alps in Europe.
“I love to do this,” Daemgen said.
She recalled backpacking with a childhood friend from Germany, hiking the rigorous landscape going from hut to hut, where you can find food and lodging.
She did have one problem with the mountains, but it didn’t stop her.
“I have a little fear of heights so I cannot look backward. I can only look forward,” Daemgen said.
During one of the trips, it happened to be foggy and rainy on the first day of hiking. Because of the conditions, the duo missed a directional sign and ended up in the wrong valley. So, they had to turn back, but night was closing in.
“We had to beg someone to sleep in their restaurant,” Daemgen said. “You don’t go in the night.”
Then there was time she braved the frigid Baltic Sea in northern Europe. The water in 48 to 50 degrees in the summertime.
“I love doing it,” she said. “You just have to keep telling yourself, it’s going to be OK. It’s very refreshing.”
What else has she accomplished? How about bicycled in several European countries, gone white-water rafting and has taken foreign mission trips.
Depending on what effect CONID-19 will have, the Swanson Award winner receives a party in their honor with food, cake and refreshments at their health club. It includes an award, personalized banner, SilverSneakers branded clothing and T-shirts for all attendees. Depending on who wins and what regulations are in place at their fitness location, SilverSneakers will do the above or a virtual celebration this year.
Voting ends Friday. You can vote for Daemgen at http://silversneakers.swansonaward.com. The winner will be announced Sept. 14.
At her age, Daemgen said she still has a lot of energy, and no aches or pains. She encouraged others to be active.
“I want other people to be encouraged that you can do it,” she said. “It has nothing to do so much with age. It’s your willingness to move.”