Tag Archives: biking

LifeSpire residents and staff bike the Virginia Capital Trail

By Ann Lovell

Dee Brooking, 76, has owned her green Schwinn bike for more than 30 years. To celebrate Active Aging Week, she rode 20 miles on the Virginia Capital Trail with her husband, Curtis, 80, and other LifeSpire of Virginia residents.

RICHMOND, Virginia—Dee Brooking, 76, has owned her green Schwinn bike for more than 30 years. To celebrate active aging week, Brooking rode her green Schwinn from the Charles City Courthouse to the Jamestown Visitor Center, a distance of 20 miles on the Virginia Capital Trail. She joined 13 other LifeSpire of Virginia residents, staff and trustees — most over the age of 60.

The purpose of the ride was to celebrate active aging week and highlight the purpose of LifeSpire’s VBH Foundation, said Patricia Morris, LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation. The foundation raises funds to help LifeSpire seniors who outlive their financial resources remain in their homes.

“It’s not a race,” Morris said. “It’s to prove you’re forever young.”

Mark Deardorff, 70, a resident of The Glebe, checks in with Pat Morris, LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation. Deardorff, an avid cyclist, finished the 40 mile trail in just under 2.5 hours.

The bikers had the option of starting the trail at one of three starting points: Four Mile Creek trailhead at mile marker 40, Herring Creek trailhead at mile marker 27 and the Charles City Courthouse at mile marker 20. The trail is mostly flat and shaded for much of the 40-mile ride, with the exception of the bridge crossing the Chickahominy River. The ride ended at mile marker 0 — the Jamestown visitor center where Virginia Capital Bike Shuttle was available to shuttle riders back to their vehicles.

The oldest group of riders, which included Brooking, her husband, Curtis, 80, and Bob Hill, 80, started at Charles City Courthouse. All three live at The Culpeper, a LifeSpire of Virginia community in Culpeper. Other residents and staff from The Glebe in Daleville and The Chesapeake in Newport News started at mile markers 40 and 27, respectively.

“I feel like I’ve been in the Tour de France,” Brooking, a native of France, said as she crossed the finish line.

Mark Deardorff, 70, and Rachel Burks, 25, finished the ride first. Deardorff, a resident of The Glebe, is an active cyclist. Burks is The Glebe’s wellness coordinator. Both started at the 40-mile mark and finished in just under 2.5 hours.

“We averaged 16.7 miles per hour,” Deardorff said, checking his fitness watch just after the ride.

Every rider finished, and based on the results, LifeSpire’s VBH Foundation plans to host a similar event next year, Morris said.

“Everyone seemed to have a good time, and it was a beautiful day for a bike ride,” Morris said. “Given the way this turned out, we hope to open it up for registration and sponsorships next year.”

More details on next year’s event will be available in early 2018.

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

LifeSpire seniors to ‘bike for benevolence’ Sept. 28

Bob Hill, 80, a resident of The Culpeper, regularly runs and bikes to keep in shape. Hill will participate in “Biking for Benevolence” Sept. 28, a wellness event hosted by LifeSpire’s Virginia Baptist Homes Foundation.

By Ann Lovell

RICHMOND, Virginia—Never underestimate the strength of a senior. Five LifeSpire of Virginia residents — ranging in age from 70 to 80 — will bike the Virginia Capital trail Sept. 28. The event for LifeSpire residents, staff, trustees and families will highlight Active Aging Week and raise awareness of the mission of Virginia Baptist Homes Foundation, said Patricia Morris, a LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation.  The ride offers starting points at mile posts 42, 27 or 20, and the group of 17 riders will finish in Jamestown at mile post 0.

The International Council on Aging designated the last full week in September as Active Aging Week beginning in 2003.  Held this year from Sept. 24-30, Active Aging Week celebrates aging and showcases the capability of older adults. Through the bike event, LifeSpire of Virginia is linking senior wellness with the opportunity to support those who outlive their financial resources, Morris said.

“Last year, VBH Foundation gave more than $1.1 million to 59 life care residents across all four LifeSpire communities. Thanks to the support of our donors, no life care resident has ever been asked to leave a community because they ran out of money,” Morris said. “The support of our foundation provides LifeSpire’s residents the peace of mind that allows them to flourish.”

Riders may start from mile post 42 or 27 at 11 a.m. or at mile post 20 at 12:30 p.m. Riders are expected to finish around 3 p.m. at mile post 0 in Jamestown. The Cap Trail shuttle is providing free shuttle service to event participants.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities across Virginia: The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville, The Chesapeake in Newport News, and Lakewood in Richmond.


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. Contact her at alovell@lifespireliving.org or (804) 521-9192.

Ted and Baerbel Schaller model life and love worth living


Editor’s note: In celebration of OLDER AMERICANS MONTH and the theme “Blaze a Trail,” LifeSpire of Virginia is featuring one resident a week from its four continuing care retirement communities who most embodies the characteristics of a “trailblazer” in wellness, community and hospitality.

By Ann Lovell

LAUGHING TOGETHER—Ted and Bell Schaller laugh together as they share the story of how they met and fell in love in Germany in the 1970s.

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia—She calls him, “My Ted.” He says he always gets the last word: “Yes, dear.”

Ted and Baerbel Schaller obviously love each other. The couple, both 76, will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary in June. The couple’s devotion to one another is well-known among residents and staff of The Chesapeake in Newport News, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community, where they’ve lived since 2010.

“They still hold hands walking from their cottage to the dining room. They are an inspiration,” says Patricia Morris, LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation, LifeSpire’s benevolence arm.

The Schallers also model wellness, community and hospitality, which is why they are two of LifeSpire’s featured trailblazers during Older Americans Month in May, says Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire President and CEO. The U.S. Administration for Community Living sets aside May each year to recognize the contributions of older Americans. The 2016 theme is “Blaze a Trail.”

“The Schallers are true ambassadors for The Chesapeake,” Cook says. “They represent all that it means to be part of a LifeSpire community.”

ENJOYING LIFE—Ted and Bell Schaller relax in the pool at The Chesapeake, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community in Newport News. The couple regularly uses the community’s pool, hot tub and fitness center to meet a variety of fitness goals.

The Schallers look for every opportunity to be involved in The Chesapeake’s myriad activities. Ted bikes 20 miles three times a week, and Baerbel claims he is “addicted to exercise.” She serves on the activities committee and the chorus committee, and both serve on the worship and spiritual life committee and as music librarians. From “aqua ease” in the community’s indoor pool to exercise class to creative arts to chorus, the Schallers’ involvement and energy seem boundless.

“We moved in six years ago at age 70. It was the best time to do it because there is so much to do,” says Baerbel, who goes by her nickname, Bell, she says, because many people can’t pronounce her German name.


The couple first learned about the community when they attended an AARP refresher driving class hosted at The Chesapeake in 2009.

“We can’t afford this,” Ted and Bell said to each other at the time, admiring the many amenities of the community. Ted is a retired U.S. Army sergeant who worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Newport News. Bell is a homemaker who manages the couple’s finances.

“He makes the money, and I spend the money,” Bell quips.

ARTWORK—Bell Schaller displays Ukrainian eggs she made in a creative art class at The Chesapeake. She has decorated her home with ceramics and other artwork she created in classes there.

But working with Liz Gee, The Chesapeake’s marketing director, the couple realized affordable options were available to them. The couple also paid a refundable deposit to add their names to a waiting list. This program, now called The Chesapeake Club, allowed them to use the community’s amenities at no additional charge. They also put their house of 34 years on the market — in the middle of the U.S. housing crash.

“Our house was on the market a year,” Bell says. “We moved in anyway.”

“There’s no place like this place so this must be the place!” Ted exclaims.

He continues, “The Chesapeake had the right feel, but two things sold me on it. One … being able to use all the amenities before we moved in. Two: If we run out of funds through no fault of our own, they won’t put us out on the street.”

“This is why we make contributions to the benevolence fund,” Bell says. “We know the benevolence fund helps keep people in their homes.”

The couple also appreciates the faith-based nature of The Chesapeake. Neither Ted nor Bell was “raised in church,” Bell says. Ted’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, and he describes himself as Catholic. Bell grew up in East Germany where worship was forbidden and describes herself as Lutheran. Both say religion plays a part in their lives now, and both serve as ushers in the nondenominational worship service that meets weekly at The Chesapeake.

“The Schallers are ‘utility players,’” says Nancy Hayes, chaplain at The Chesapeake. “I know I can count on them.”

But it isn’t so much “religion” or religious activities that inspire the Schallers as the way that faith-based attitudes play out in their everyday interactions with The Chesapeake’s staff and other residents. “Respect” is one word Ted uses, incidentally the same word he uses to describe the success of their marriage. “Honesty” and “trust” are others.

“People treat each other differently in a faith-based community,” Bell says. “They talk differently to one another. Nobody talks nasty here.”

“Everyone is honest,” Ted says. “It has a calming effect.”


AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE—This Scrabble curio is displayed in the Schaller’s cottage at The Chesapeake where they have lived since 2010. It is just one tangible example of the love the Schallers express for one another.

Respect, honesty and trust are not only hallmarks of the couple’s relationships with other people; those characteristics have been the foundation of the couple’s relationship with one another since their first meeting in a small West German village in 1974. Bell, whose family lived in East Germany, left the communist state in 1955 when she was 15 years old.

“When I finished my schooling in East Germany, I had the choice of becoming a blacksmith or a mason,” Bell says. “My parents said, ‘No.’” So, the young woman moved to West Germany to live with her aunt and uncle.

Ted, who was stationed with the U.S. Army in West Germany, first spotted Bell at a party in an adjoining village. She didn’t notice him. A few months later, a young American military couple who rented their home from Bell needed a driver to take them to the airport. Ted showed up with the car. Bell didn’t speak much English — as an East German, she had learned Russian in school. Ted, who understood some German, was studying the language. He asked Bell to help him with his German homework.

“We were married six months later,” Ted says, proudly. “It took me three tours to Germany to find her.”

To this day, the two still speak German in their home.


The couple’s only regret in a lifetime of happiness is that they have no children.

“I love children,” Bell says. “I always wanted children.”

In 1976, the couple filed paperwork to adopt but were advised that the military lifestyle was too unstable for a child. Still, they recognize that the life and love they share is unique and fulfilling.

“We never fight. We have no kids, so there’s no reason,” Ted quips.

“And, we have nieces and nephews, and we have the big family of The Chesapeake,” Bell says.

In particular, her nephew, Sven, who lives in southern Germany, calls, texts and visits them often. They proudly show photos of Sven and the numerous trips they’ve made together.

“One time Sven told my Ted, ‘Uncle Ted, I never drink or smoke because you don’t do it,’” Bell says proudly.

Modeling good behavior for the next generation is important to the Schallers, not just for Sven’s benefit but for others as well.

Bell sums it up best.

“We want to live a life in front of people that they can look up to,” she says.

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.