Signature HealthCARE residents participate in wheelchair Superbowl

While much of America gets ready for the annual Superbowl football game, residents at the Signature HealthCARE Center in Elizabethton were having a Superbowl competition of their own, complete with cheerleaders, a guest appearance by the county mayor and a halftime show.

Quality of Life Director Roberta Campbell said the annual Wheelchair Superbowl takes place at every Signature HealthCARE Center across the country on the same day.

“We had a really good time,” Campbell said. “The residents were really enthusiastic.”

Residents squared off a little after 2 p.m. Friday as the Sycamore Scrapers and the Pine Ridge Pulverizers got ready for their annual game. Other residents served as cheerleaders on the sidelines as well as dancers with ribbons during the halftime show. Football players and cheerleaders from Happy Valley High School arrived to assist, but it was the residents who made all the plays.

“When we do this, they get social interaction, critical thinking,” she said. “They get to pick out the uniforms, and family members were also involved.”

Therefore, to Signature, the game was more than just a game. Campbell said many of the residents had never been able to play a sport when they were younger.

The game itself is a small part of how the center makes sure to keep their residents active throughout the year. Campbell said they are always trying to put on events, including an upcoming Valentine’s Social and annual vacations, in which many residents experience airplane travel for the first time.

She said everything they do, they try to imitate regular home life when they do it.

“We try to make everything home-like,” she said. “They would sit back and yell at their favorite teams. They really love trying something different.”

She said the high school’s presence, especially, made the experience special.

“Our residents love being with teenagers,” she said. “They love doing things with them.”

Football players helped the wheelchair-using residents move around the field but did not help them make the touch tackles; that was up to the players themselves.

Ultimately, the game ended in a tie, 18-18, by the end of the game, though to both the residents and the staff, the score was just a number.

“It makes me so proud of our residents,” Campbell said.

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