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Crosslake senior expo is back and bigger than before

Crosslake Cares’ “Senior Days & Senior Expo" begins Friday, April 29. The three-day event includes presentations, a 3K walk, restaurant deals, a prom, pickleball, golf and mini-golf, and former WCCO-TV news anchor Don Shelby as the keynote speaker.

People visit vendor and information booths on April 27, 2019, at the Crosslake Cares' 2019 Power of Aging Expo at The Log Church in Crosslake.
More than 500 people visited The Log Church in Crosslake on April 27, 2019, for the inaugural Crosslake Cares "Power of Aging Expo" which featured 37 exhibitors and 14 food vendors that provided free food.
Contributed / Crosslake Cares
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CROSSLAKE — Aging isn’t for the faint of heart. But it doesn’t have to be challenging, especially with the proper support and information.

Crosslake Cares’ goal is to connect seniors to services that improve their lives. One way the nonprofit hopes to do that is with its Senior Days & Expo, which begins Friday, April 29.

“That's really what our nonprofit is all about is the senior community,” said John Bruder, president and secretary of Crosslake Cares.

Based on AARP’s definition of seniors as those 50 and older and census data — more than 70% of Crosslake’s population are seniors — the Senior Days & Expo in Crosslake should have wide appeal.

“You immediately understand that there is a preponderance of seniors in the Crosslake area, and we're not unlike many other northern Minnesota rural communities,” Bruder said. “And seniors do need the information to be able to live their lives and improve their situations.”

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The three-day event will include presentations, a 3K walk, deals, a prom, pickleball, golf and mini-golf, and former WCCO-TV news anchor Don Shelby as the keynote speaker.

John Bruder, founder, president and secretary of Crosslake Cares, speaks at 2019 senior expo at The Log Church in Crosslake.
John Bruder, founder, president and secretary of Crosslake Cares, speaks at 2019 senior expo at The Log Church in Crosslake.
Contributed / Crosslake Cares

Bruder, a 71-year-old retiree who lives near Crosslake, founded Crosslake Area Senior Services Inc. in 2018, which does business as Crosslake Cares. Bruder served as a volunteer counselor for Medicare after he retired but before he founded Crosslake Area Senior Services.

“I could see that there are all the seniors in the Crosslake area, but there wasn't really one overarching organization to serve them,” Bruder said Wednesday, April 27.

Representatives from the health and wellness community, the faith community, and the chamber of commerce came to the conclusion a nonprofit like Crosslake Cares would be a valuable resource, according to Bruder.

“We thought our first year we should try to get our name out there, get known. What could we do? And so in 2019, we did our first — we called it the Senior Expo — and the tagline ‘the power of aging,’” Bruder said of the inaugural expo.

The first expo took place at The Log Church in Crosslake in 2019 with Mark Rosen of WCCO-TV as the keynote speaker. The expo was a huge success with more than 500 people in attendance, 37 exhibitors and 14 food vendors providing free food, according to officials.

“We had quite a wonderful turnout,” Bruder said. “And folks coming by to go to booths and learn about services for seniors — could be health, could be wellness, could be real estate, could be a lawyer talking about estate planning, what have you.”

The organizers hope to build on that success with more than 50 exhibitors, prizes and giveaways, and “mini-talks” on topics of interest at this year’s expo, such as proactive health care; onset fatigue, dizziness, loss of strength and balance; and modern grandparenting.

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“The board discussed in our planning group if we should expand things, and we decided we would … that there were so many other fun things that we might be able to do, that would be interesting to seniors to attend,” Bruder said.

Crosslake Cares will offer presentations on travel and technology, for example, because of the challenges of telehealth for seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many of our seniors either weren't able to connect to the internet or if they were they didn't have equipment where they can participate in a Zoom meeting or things like that,” Bruder said. “And we do a survey every year of our seniors and one of their top items is outings, to go out someplace, leisure travel, have some fun.”

Seniors are also invited to stretch their legs and join others for a 3K walk starting and ending at The Log Church on Saturday morning.

“We know that exercise is vitally important as you age,” Bruder said. “And so we have a very simple walk that will be led by Donna Keifer, who is on our board of directors and who is also a Silver Sneakers representative, does programs at our community center.”

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The senior pickleball Saturday afternoon will take place at the community center’s relatively new pickleball courts.

“Weather allowing, we'll have instructional pickleball — not a tournament — but trying to educate seniors on the nuances of pickleball and the fun, et cetera,” Bruder said.

The mini-golf, golf and prom have some costs associated with them in order to participate. But most of the activities are free, and the expo with vendors and info is not limited to seniors.

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“Another major thing is we've got 11 restaurants in the area that are participating in our senior specials,” he said. “And so these would be meals that are discounted for our seniors, area seniors, to go to the local restaurants. Those are all identified on our website as well.”

Crosslake Cares’ mission is to develop new opportunities and enhance access to existing services, and Bruder believes that the third expo in Crosslake will help in achieving this.

“We find that almost the whole community gets involved with seniors, whether they're caregivers, friends, family, whatever it might be the involvement with seniors and therefore the information that we try to get to them is available to everybody,” Bruder said.

For more about Crosslake Cares, Senior Days & Expo and more, email info@crosslakecares.org or visit www.crosslakecares.org .

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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