WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Ms. Senior America 2016 Pageant in Atlantic City is coming up on Oct. 18, and nothing is going to stop White Plains resident Gladys Kovarcik Nilsen -- not even double knee replacements -- from performing.
Nilsen, 77, an actress, singer and perhaps most notably, Ms. Hawaii Senior America 2014, is a native of Santiago, Chile, and she's lived in Peru, Belgium and Hawaii. This mother of six and grandmother of 11 was also seen recently doing the hula at the Nathaniel Witherell in Greenwich, after a physical therapy session.
After suffering from osteoarthritis in her knees for years, and when exercise and injections failed, Nilsen concluded that she needed double knee replacement surgery. She chose Greenwich Hospital for her surgery and the Witherell for short-term rehabilitation.
"I was there for almost a month and they gave me the best attention and comfort I could get," Nilsen said, describing her first rehab at the Witherell, in February. Thrilled with her treatment, she returned here this summer after her second knee surgery.
"It was like returning to my second home," she says. "I already knew all of the personnel, and one by one they each gave me the sincerest welcome. That was so important to me – to feel like part of the group."
Nilsen continues to return to the Witherell, for thrice-weekly outpatient physical therapy -- and remains afterward for the recreational activities, whether there's a singer, musician or lecturer. Recently she even joined the entertainers, going on stage to sing and do the hula during Witherell's end-of-summer luau and beach party.