Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Redefining ‘determination’

From the Desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton

March 2014

The Choctaw Nation has an amazing group of elders who provide positive examples to us all. Carole Ayers is one such Choctaw lady who has redefined “determination.”

Last year, Carole traveled with her District 9 group to Spiro and joined the 2013 Trail of Tears Walk at Skullyville Cemetery. At that time in May, 10 months ago, Carole needed a walker to support herself. She used the walker along the roads from the cemetery to the Spiro center, moving slowly, making frequent stops to rest on its seat. She was the last to finish, hours behind everyone else, and she says it will be different this year.

Carole believes determination is key to anything a person wants and she has been participating in the CrossFit strength and conditioning program at the Choctaw Nation Wellness Center in Durant. Getting out of a chair used to take tremendous effort for Carole. She can now bend her knees and stand up with less hesitation. She has lost weight, her pain has diminished and she no longer needs a walker. Carole’s goal is to finish the Walk this year with everyone else. Her willpower is an inspiration.

Many of the Choctaw Community Centers have routine exercise programs or provide transportation for its senior citizens to nearby wellness centers. A familiar face at the McAlester Community Center is Joanna Hogan. Joanna is 93 years “young” and rides a stationary bike 5 miles as part of her routine. Joanna says her longevity and wellbeing are because of exercising and staying fit.

One gentleman who is primarily confined to a wheelchair shows his strength of mind by standing during a portion of his center’s regular exercise classes. There are also several active walking groups and when the weather isn’t nice enough to get outdoors, they do aerobics, chair exercises or use exercise equipment to stay in shape. The walking groups compete with each other several times a year, each team wearing its center’s colors and enjoying the competition with their friends.

Many health factors are beyond our control. Yakoke to our elders who take charge of their life and commit to a lifestyle that not only improves their health and happiness, it enlightens everyone around them to the definitions of strength and self-sufficiency.