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'Boomers and Beyond' Senior Expo was big success

Deb Schenheit of Mizpah receives a back massage from Becky Duran at the Chiropractic Sport and Spinal Rehab booth during the Boomers and Beyond Senior Expo Wednesday afternoon at the Sanford Center. Brian Matthews | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Hope Slusar drives Richard and Dorothy Steidl to their vehicle at the Boomers and Beyond Senior Expo Wednesday afternoon at the Sanford Center. As part of the event, drivers like Slusar drove golf carts, transporting seniors to their vehicles when leaving. Brian Matthews | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI — The inaugural “Boomers and Beyond” Senior Expo was a hit, exceeding expectations of the organizers and the seniors that participated.

“We decided a long time ago that we should do some kind of activity for seniors,” said Dan Voss, general manager of RP Broadcasting. “Something where they can focus on things that will benefit seniors and help them live a more fulfilling life.”

Voss said the expo came together after nearly eight months of planning. Two of the major sponsors, Seven Clan Casinos and Sanford Health, joined RP Broadcasting early in the process, and other vendors quickly lined up, causing the expo to be moved from the Sanford Center’s ballroom to the arena.

Voss said that they planned for 1,000 people to come through the doors in the eight hours of the expo, but at 1:30 p.m., an hour and a half into the event, 40 percent of the information packets were already gone, setting a pace for surpassing 1,000 people.

For Jennie Borgen, 67, and Linda Bouchie, 65, of Bemidji, the expo was a great opportunity to learn about senior traveling groups.

“I am interested in travel, and there are a lot of travel clubs here,” Borgen said. “We usually plan our own trips, but these groups can give good hints.”

Borgen and Bouchie have planned trips to place like Alaska, but traveling with a group is something they both would consider trying as they enjoy their retirement.

“It is nice being a senior in that respect because you think you have all this time to travel,” Borgen said. “It is nice to have that free time now because we worked.”

The expo offered a variety of breakout sessions, with presentations on topics including health care, travel, income planning and exercise for seniors.

Libby Hargesheimer, an active participant in Sanford Health’s Silver Sneakers program, a program that focuses on exercises for seniors, was at the expo. She said she heard about it through her friends in the exercise classes.

Silver Sneakers class leader Darla Hoe-Ostrom held a “Shake Rattle and Roll Through the Golden Years” session, focusing on the Sanford Bemidji Peak Performance’s Silver Shoe Program.

Hargesheimer said the program has been a great way to stay active.

“(Hoe-Ostrom) is really good,” Hargesheimer said. “I have done the program for about six years and it has been really good for me.”

Hoe-Ostrom said the expo was great for her. She has been to the Bemidji Women’s Expo, and she said she thought it was great to have all of these outlets for seniors to benefit from.

The expo had more than 50 vendors from the community. Voss said with the early success, he would like to host another senior expo in the future.