Nancy Hulbert, a fitness specialist and dance coach of the G-Squad, a group of Garner female senior citizens who dance at various events, was sitting at work on a Monday evening, getting ready to leave work when she received an interesting phone call.
A woman, who spoke broken English, was on the other line. She said she was from the Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation in Taiwan. The woman said she saw the G-Squad on YouTube and was wondering if the group would be interested in performing at Taipai Arena in Taiwan in October.
“I was like ‘sure,’ ” she said sarcastically. “Why don’t you just send me it in an email. Of course I was like yeah, OK. This is so fake.”
So Hulbert emailed the seven members of the G-Squad, and they began to research. To their surprise, they found the foundation online.
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According to the foundation’s website, the Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation was founded on March 31, 1995, to better serve a growing senior citizen population in Taiwan that is expected to reach 14 percent this year.
For the past five years, the foundation has put on sort of a talent show for seniors and invited senior citizen groups from around the world for the past three. Last year, it invited a singing group from China. Two years ago, it invited a hip-hop group from New Zealand.
This year, it invited the G-Squad from Garner.
But just to be on the safe side, Hulbert messaged the New Zealand group on Facebook to ask whether the foundation and show was real.
“She Facebooked me back and said ‘oh my gosh. Congratulations. It was absolutely awesome,’ ” Hulbert recalled.
Hulbert said as soon as she let the G-Squad know, the women had their bags packed.
An exciting time
When they talk about it they all get excited.
“How exciting at this stage of your life you think you’ve seen it all, done it all and to have something this exciting happen in your 70s,” Hulbert said. “It’s pretty cool.”
The G-Squad members agree.
“When you look at the entire United States, and this is such a small town in North Carolina, and we were the ones who were picked,” Patricia Hill, one of the dancers, said. “It’s really, really done a lot for I’m sure all of our egos and for the town of Garner. And especially for the Garner Senior Center, because it goes to show you this is a place of excellence.”
But the confirmation from the foundation didn’t confirm their trip. Hulbert first had to convince Sonya Shaw, the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director, that it was a good idea. And Shaw had to convince the town council that it was a good idea.
In the end it worked out.
“So we started practicing twice a week,” Hulbert said. “We put two dances together. So we’ll do one, and it kind of moves to the next one.”
At the show, the G-Squad will dance to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas.
The G-Squad has set up a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/2f6jx7g, hoping to raise $15,000 for the trip to Taiwan.
The G-Squad was formed eight years ago to prove that “age is nothing but a number.” The group, whose members range in age from 60 to 76, is popular around the town, representing the senior center by performing hip-hop routines at different town events.
The group consists of Elaine Spivey, Olivia Bond, Alberta Barrett, Elizabeth Batten, Deanna Macbeth, Hill and Maureen Sanner, who volunteer to represent the Garner Senior Center by performing Hip Hop routines to top 40 hits at town sponsored events.
Those events include the Senior Games, nursing homes, neighboring senior centers and openings for charitable functions such as the Annual Arthritis Walk, Relay for Life and the First Responder’s Celebration.