By Kirk Kern

John Bianco didn’t move to Mesquite thinking about an active lifestyle with lots of physical activity. He really just wanted to get out of California.

John Bianco participates in bocce in the Mesquite Senior Games, along with long drive, closest to the pin, golf and pistol shooting. (Amy Bradshaw photo)

Bianco has been on disability since 1991. He had initially had suffered a broken back during his time in the military and then reinjured it years later. He grew up in the small Utah town of Helper, but he and his wife had moved to Palm Springs to be closer to his three sons, who had all relocated to southern California.

“California was just a culture shock for me,” Bianco said. “I stayed for my wife and kids. But I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”

So about three years ago, Bianco and his wife Janis packed up and moved to Mesquite. For the two of them, it was a good compromise. Still close enough to the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, but more along the small-town lifestyle he felt comfortable with in Helper.

And, thanks to modern medical technology, Bianco has been able to enjoy the active lifestyle that draws many retirees to Mesquite. Part of that lifestyle is the Mesquite Senior Games as Bianco competes in long drive, closest to the pin, golf, pistol shooting and bocce ball.

“I had a nerve ablation, which took away all my pain,” Bianco said. “I was like a new man again.”

Besides the broken back, Bianco had a knee replacement seven years ago and a shoulder replaced three years ago … and he also has a pacemaker.

“I used to golf when I was young, but I gave it up for years,” Bianco said. “Thanks to the miracle workers in the medical field, I was able to pick it up again. I’ve done a lot of shooting, target practice and hunting my whole life. And I grew up in an Italian family, so I knew about bocce.”

Bianco also helped Janis in shooting. He was such a good teacher she ended up winning a gold medal and top gun award.

“She has the bragging rights in the house,” he said.

He really enjoys participating in the Mesquite Senior Games, as it helps keep him active and healthy. He said organizations like that can be a big help in getting seniors out and about because it’s not hyper-competitive and there are events for everyone.

“They keep us moving, keep us mobile and interested in life,” he said.

He’s also more interested in life after leaving California. His family grew up in Helper, but his oldest son went to University of Utah to play baseball, met a girl and moved to Riverside, California. Another son went to college at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and eventually the third son followed his brothers to the Golden State.

They’ve all been pretty successful too. His oldest son is the sheriff of Riverside County and another is a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court. The third son also is a sheriff’s deputy in Riverside.

That led John and Janis to make the move, moving from the town they both grew up in.

“We just packed our bags and went to California,” Bianco said. “We went down there for a surgery at the VA and stayed there 28 years. I hated every year of that, although I enjoyed being with family.”