Buddy and Edyie Rapone are quite the team. Not only have they been happily married for the past 40 years, but together they have orchestrated the highly successful Fun Seekers for the past 16 years.
The Fun Seekers offer various trips year round for seniors, ranging from daylong bus trips around the region to weeklong trips to the west coast and Europe. “Seekers” only need to worry about getting themselves to the pick up destination; Buddy and Edyie coordinate all the rest from transportation, food to the day’s schedule.
The trips are so popular that nearly every trip sells out with more than 100 people attending. Only a week after the 2016 trip schedule was released nearly every trip had booked an entire bus and was taking reservations for a second.
Before the Fun Seekers, there was Ellie and Friends, a similar program that was done on a much smaller scale. When Ellie, a friend of the Rapone family, had decided to retire from planning trips she reached out to Buddy and Edyie, believing they would be perfect for the job.
“At that point I had never been on anything other than a school bus,” Edyie said. “She told me to go on one trip with them before deciding whether or not to take it over.”
Having loved the program, Edyie and Buddy, now 60 and 64 respectively, took over in 2000 changing the name to Fun Seekers to better represent the people coming on their trips.
What started as a small group of friends traveling together, has become a sensation for seniors throughout Rhode Island and even some in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The group is also seeing younger generations interested in their trips. The Fun Seekers began with only one trip a month, but now host several a month and have traveled further and further from the state to places such as Hawaii, Alaska and Italy. Their next trip is a cruise the Panama Canal in March. The Fun Seekers have nearly 500 people signed up for their mailing list since taking over.
“We’ve never had a bus that wasn’t full,” Edyie said. “Our group has expanded beyond our imaginations.”
Even their “mystery trips”, which go to an undisclosed event or place, are also very popular.
Edyie said that even before reaching any destination, the bus trips have bingo, trivia and other fun activities, which can be just as much fun and entertainment as the trip itself. So, those attending a mystery trip know they will have a good time no matter the final destination.
“The inner child of most people loves surprises,” Edyie said about the mystery trips. “I think the anticipation is the best part of it, knowing there is fun to come.”
Each trip tries to provide a new experience, a little adventure, and a day of relaxation for all seekers.
Buddy and Edyie, who also both work together at their company Lanzi Furs, put in hours upon hours for months at a time to plan out a year’s worth of trips, to ensure they have covered every detail and can take the worry out of travels for their seekers.
The trips offer an opportunity for seniors who want to keep their quality of life, but may not be able to take similar trips on their own. It offers a time for seekers to forget their aches and pains and any problems for a day of friends and fun.
Edyie said, “We hope to bring people back to an joyful time. They can feel young and adventurous again. I believe that’s the key to happiness, continuing that spirit even as we age. It’s a day worth spending.”
She and her husband believe that fun is a natural “pain reliever” and can overcome and physical ailment even if just for a short time.
Florence Pagliarini of Cranston is a long time Fun Seeker, joining on trips for nearly 15 years. An avid theatre fan she joins all of the day trips that go to see shows throughout the region. Especially after her husband passed and she retired she began attending more and more of the trips.
She said that she enjoys the trips very much and that Buddy and Edyie are so caring of all the seekers in attendance and treat everyone so “warmly." The couple has immense “enthusiasm” that just catches fire on the bus trips.
Florence believes if you go on one trip, you’ll become hooked and quickly be a “repeat customer.” Seekers constantly make new friends on the trips and everyone looks forward to seeing each other on the next trip.
“It’s attractive to those with very active minds, but might not be physically able to take the trip on their own,” Florence said. “This keeps me internally youthful. The Fun Seekers keeps you looking forward to tomorrow instead of basking in yesteryear.”
A lot success comes from the teamwork between Buddy and Edyie. After 40 years of marriage, and working together in two separate businesses, the couple remains best friends.
The two are “immensely grateful” to be able to provide a program like the Fun Seekers to local seniors.
Edyie said, “Seniors still want fun, that never stops. You only get one life and you should make it as spectacular as possible with as many good memories as possible.”
For more information, to be added to the mailing list or to reserve a trip call Buddy and Edyie at 231-7237.
For every trip the couple asks for a canned good for the St. Roberts Church food pantry. Trips start at approximately $70 and increase depending on destination and days traveled.