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Our Senior Olympian

Colorado Springs 85-Year-Old Chiropractic Patient Wins 12 Gold Medals at Senior Games


You think you're tough? Try winning 12 Olympic gold medals at age 85 in swimming, discus, javelin, and shot put. 

Now that I've put a cap on your ego, let me tell you about our Olympian.

Thrive Chiropractic patient, Willie Gatza, age 85, returned home Monday from a 2-day Olympic event at the Rocky Mountain Senior Games in Greely, CO. She entered 13 events, and came home with 12 medals.  Willie will now proceed onto Nationals next year in Houston, TX - last year's National where held at Stanford University, CA. 

"One of the reasons I try to keep this up is to see how long I can keep this up," said Willie. 

"I entered 10 swimming events, but only completed 9," she said. "If I would have been more determined, I just know I could have done them all." Willie is hard on herself.

Michael Phelps, move over. 

Willie started competing in the Senior Olympic Games in 1989, after she retired.

"I needed something to do," she said. "I always had a sedentary job, and when I retired, I started doing water aerobics, then I took some swimming classes, and then I joined the Masters swim club. The first year I competed, I came home with nothing, but everyone I went with earned a medal." That's when the competitive drive kicked in. Willie has been competing ever since, racking in the gold. 

The Olympians compete in 5 year age brackets. Willie is now in the 85-89 year old age bracket. 
All of Willie's dreams almost came crashing down when her doctor recommended she take FDA-approved Reclast  (Zoledronic Acid) , a prescription medication advertised to strengthen bones.

"I lost 2 years of my life," she said. "I developed ulcer-like welts on my calves, lost my strength, my jaw bones ached, I felt like I had a severe flu, and I had extreme headaches."

Experiences like this have encouraged Willie to try to find other ways to deal with her pain. Dr. Molly Kallenbach, managing doctor of Thrive Chiropractic, is working with Willie to relieve pain so that she can continue to do what she loves - win gold medals. 

When asked what advice she'd give to younger people, Willie said, "I encourage younger people to not go so crazy with extreme exercise. Getting off the couch is fantastic, but extreme exercise abuses your body. My own son is 20 years younger than me, and he has many of the same pain symptoms I do as a result of his over-athletic days. I'm all about loving myself these days." 

Wise words from a wise, Olympic athlete.     


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  • "I was skeptical about how much chiropractic could really help me. Now, I wish I would have tried it sooner."