Shirley Stein loves participating in the annual Carbon County Senior Games.
Since she began competing in 2003, the Mahoning Valley woman has helped the Lehighton team continue its 11-year reign, winning over two dozen medals.
But this year is extra special for the 81-year-old Stein because this year, she will be sharing the games with her daughter, LaRae Hlavaty.
Stein and the 62-year-old Hlavaty will be two of nearly 200 seniors from Carbon County who will gather at the Lehighton Recreation Center next Tuesday for the start of the games with the hopes of winning a gold medal or two over the next two weeks.
But one thing that separates this "dynamic duo," as Hlavaty calls the pair, from the rest of the competitors, is they are the first mother and daughter in the history of the Senior Games to compete at the same time.
"Victor (Pituch, the Senior Games organizer) was so excited," Stein said about learning they are the first mother and daughter to compete in the games. "He said in the 24 years of the games, he never had a mother/daughter team.
"This is terrific," Stein continued. "I waited all these years to get her in the games. It's going to be fun this year."
"She couldn't wait until I was old enough to be part of the games," Hlavaty added. "I'm looking forward to it."
Hlavaty admitted she is nervous about competing because she's not a competitor and never tried some of the events before.
Her mother reassured her that no matter if she wins any medals or not, the memories and new friends that will be made during the games are well worth it.
Pituch echoed Stein and Hlavaty's thoughts about the upcoming games.
"It's exciting to be here long enough to see a mother and daughter compete together," he said. "I never thought I would see that."
Pituch has been the organizer of the games since its inception in the county in 1988.
He said that this year's games will be exciting in that there are some changes, such as new shuffleboard disks that will glide more easily across the floor during the shuffleboard event on Tuesday; as well as the way the champions are decided.
Pituch noted that there will still be the five teams – Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley, Jim Thorpe and Weatherly –during the games, but the final totals will be calculated by northern Carbon County (Panther Valley, Weatherly and Jim Thorpe) and southern Carbon County (Lehighton and Palmerton).
"This will be exciting because it will give more teams a chance to win," he said.
The Carbon County Senior Games will run from 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 1, to 4 p.m., Thursday, May 10, when the teams will gather at the Mahoning Ambulance Building for the closing banquet.
During the games, seniors will compete in shuffleboard, bean bag toss, basketball, darts, swimming, shooting pool, miniature golf, bowling, ping pong, walking a mile, throwing a softball, horseshoes, bocci, bingo, pinochle and rummy, and dancing.