ST. GEORGE – Crowds gathered at the Dixie Center Sunday to support John Morgan Jr. as he received the “Personal Best” award from the National Senior Games Association. Morgan founded the Huntsman World Senior Games back in 1987 and has played tennis in all 26 of the games except one.
Morgan had the vision and hard work to make the games a reality, Kyle Case, CEO of the Huntsman Games said, and that “he actually got behind the Huntsman Games and worked on it to make it successful.”
What originally started as a business plan to turn St. George into a senior resort became a much more personal passion for Morgan.
“It’s not just about making money,” Marc Riker, CEO of the NSGA said, “It’s truly he loves to see these people here from all over the world and the fellowship and friendships that people have created.”
Morgan said that he is overwhelmed by how large the games have grown. He remembers back to the first games when no one even signed up until days before the games began. The Huntsman Games now give 10,000 seniors the opportunity to compete and participate in an active lifestyle. This makes the Huntsman Games the second largest senior games in the world, behind the National Senior Olympics.
Following the presentation, a birthday party was also held as an early celebration for Morgan’s 90th birthday, which is actually on the Oct. 11. This means that he will be competing in the 90 and over age division for tennis this year.
The NSGA began giving out the “Personal Best” award this year, and Morgan is one of only 10 recipients. Riker said they chose individuals who have inspired people and who are motivated by health and fitness for the senior population. After hearing about Morgan’s story, the NSGA decided that he was a great candidate for the award.
“What he has created here is iconic for health and wellness for seniors and friendship and peace,” Riker said. “We couldn’t pick a better person.”
Despite these accolades Morgan didn’t focus on his personal achievement, instead he looked at what the award meant for the Huntsman Games.
“Getting awards helps our standing with everything we are trying to accomplish,” Morgan said. “We are trying to help the situation out where we become better citizens and healthier people.”
Morgan presented as a humble person who didn’t seem to take receiving the award too seriously. He said that he wanted to receive the award in blue jeans and a T-shirt but his wife made him put on a suit. “I have never worn a suit on this type of a set up,” he said.
The Huntsman World Senior Games are up and running, with an expo at the Dixie Center St. George, competitions underway and opening ceremonies looming tomorrow night.
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