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Seniors duke it out with remote-controlled forklifts: "Aging is a team sport"

CARVER, Minn. -- We're all doing what we can to stay young. For seniors at the Carver Senior Living Facility, that means racing remote-controlled forklifts.

"We've got huge crowds coming in to watch. We'll cram about 30 people into that room," said Jenna Larson, CSLF's director of community life and wellness.

It's a packed house Thursday with a playoff atmosphere as residents have gathered to cheer on the hometown River Rats. A lean, mean, forklift-racing team.

"Keep our composure, don't panic. Everybody watch out for me. You never know where I'll be," said Dave Overlund, an 85-year-old racer.

Every Thursday at 1 p.m., the River Rats face off virtually against another group of seniors in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"It's very competitive and you have to really be team-oriented to do this," said Frank Glynn, who is also 85.

They use remote-controlled forklifts to pick up loads and place them around the arena. The first team to deliver all four loads to a new location, wins the shift.


"It's harder than it looks. You have to be seriously aware of whether you want to go forwards or backwards. Whether you want to turn left or right," said Overlund.

All while trying not to collide with your teammates.

"What I learned during my career is that aging is a team sport," said Dr. Bill Thomas, medical director for Lifespark.

Dr. Thomas invented the National Forklift Racing League to help seniors exercise hand-eye coordination, while building camaraderie.

"A lot of people think about aging and old age in terms of what you can't do. Forklift racing is about what people can do," said Dr. Thomas.

As it turns out, they can do a lot. There's a little bit of senior smack talk. And the crowd goes wild whenever the River Rats come through.

"I thought it was a fancy shuffleboard, so to speak. But after I got into it and it was really pretty fun," said Overlund.

The River Rats practice most weekdays at 1 p.m. and compete on Thursdays.

Win or lose, ice cream bars are served after the competitions are over.

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