Inspiring. Incredible. Amazing. Phenomenal.
These are just a few of the words that people use when describing BJ Hetrick-Irwin, a local resident who’s something of a powerhouse in the Pahrump community.
Three decades ago, Hetrick-Irwin founded what would become the Nevada Silver Tappers, and by 2003 she added Ms. Senior Golden Years to her repertoire. Over the years, she’s become not just a beloved leader for the ladies of both organizations, but a cherished part of their families and the entire community as well.
So when a huge life milestone, Hetrick-Irwin’s 95th birthday, was approaching, the ladies decided pandemic or no pandemic, they were not about to let it go by without some proper pomp and circumstance. With the governor’s phase two reopening plans allowing for private gatherings of up to 50 people, the way was made clear for an open-house style birthday shindig, where the delighted and excited Hetrick-Irwin greeted her friends and family with enthusiasm, warmth and intense gratitude.
“It was awesome, absolutely awesome! Absolutely mind-blowing. It was wonderful to see all my girls and the people who support me so much in the community. I couldn’t have had it any better,” Hetrick-Irwin, who turned 95 on June 19, raved following the event.
The birthday bash took place on Saturday, June 20 at the Nevada Silver Tappers’ Dance Studio, where the ladies have spent so many other amazing times together. With food and fun, laughter and presents, Hetrick-Irwin was honored for being the remarkable person she is and it was obvious that those in attendance were overjoyed to be able to celebrate such a momentous occasion with her.
“BJ is so amazing, I’m so glad to be a part of her life and this wonderful organization,” Ms. Senior Golden Years 2019 Queen Laraine Babbitt told the Pahrump Valley Times. “She is such an inspiration!”
“BJ’s dream of inspiring and enabling senior women to reach their highest potential has given my golden years purpose, family, and pride in myself and my accomplishments. Because of BJ I have been able to answer the age-old question of ‘Why am I here?’ I’m here to help any way I can. And I stay young and vital being a Silver Tapper,” Kathleen O’Connor, a Nevada Silver Tapper and an organizer of the birthday party, added, and the words of both women have been echoed repeatedly by many others.
Hetrick-Irwin said it is this very reason that she is so grateful for the two organizations that have given her life such meaning in the past 30 years.
“That’s my reward, the people and how they grow over time. Watching them grow in themselves,” Hetrick-Irwin said.
The Nevada Silver Tappers started out in 1990 as the Nevada State Troopers, but at the time, the organization was connected to Las Vegas and Hetrick-Irwin decided she felt the proper place for the group was right here in Pahrump. By 2007, the hard work and dedication they showed to the community, through fundraisers and philanthropic works, prompted a very special honor, the naming of the Nevada Silver Tappers as official ambassadors of Pahrump. It’s an honor Hetrick-Irwin said she was elated to receive, as everywhere the Silver Tappers travel, the ladies do their very best to make a wonderful and lasting impression that then reflects back on the community they love.
As for Ms. Senior Golden Years, Hetrick-Irwin founded this organization in 2003 and its headliner event, the Ms. Senior Golden Years USA Pageant, has become a much-loved part of the town’s annual events calendar. This year’s pageant has unfortunately been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Hetrick-Irwin and her Golden Years members said they are eagerly anticipating holding the entertaining and inspiring event just as soon as they can.
“You have to have a positive attitude and you have to have compassion. But most of all, you have to love yourself first,” Hetrick-Irwin said when asked what was the key to keeping young at heart. “That’s what I try to show the girls, that they are so beautiful and wonderful. Each of them is unique, there will never be another person in the world like them. I strive to show them that. You know, my girls are not professionals but they’re out there doing the best they can do and they’re dynamite. I don’t think the Rockettes have got anything on us!”
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org