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Older & Bolder

“Older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders … older people are embarking on second careers, giving younger Americans a fine example of responsibility, resourcefulness, competence, and determination.”  ~ Ronald Reagan

Many older people have been rediscovering the joy of being active. In fact, some of them have achieved incredible accomplishments that many younger people have not or cannot. Here are some inspiring examples:

Edith Wilma Connor was feeling bored in her data processing job and decided to start lifting weights to challenge herself. She was in her 60’s at
the time, and by the age of 65, decided to enter into her first bodybuilding competition—and won! At age 80 Connor holds the Guinness World Record for “Oldest Living Female Bodybuilder” which she accomplished in 2012. She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to 16 children and lives in Denver, Colorado. She works out at least three times a week.

John Sanmartini loved riding a bicycle since he was a young boy. At the age of 55, he took up competitive cycling after reaching retirement. Sanmartini has been a competitive cyclist in both the Huntsman World Senior Games and the National Senior Games for over 25 years. “I don’t do it just for bicycle riding. I like to race, be a little competitive,” says Sanmartini. “It’s good for your health. You have to be in some kind of shape; you got to have enough sleep, eat, and drink to be able to race. It’s competitive. It takes work to do it.”

Geneva Eskrivge a 92-year-old Idaho grandmother, decided to try skydiving for the first time after she was diagnosed with cancer. It had always been a lifelong dream of hers to jump out of a plane. Being able to cross skydiving off of her bucket list was a greatly rewarding experience. While her cancer diagnosis helped to give her the confidence to finally take that leap out of a plane, Eskrivage hopes to inspire others to be able to do the same. “When I was told I had cancer, I decided I better start living,” she said.

Charlie Edwards never really considered archery at all until he struck up a conversation with a man sharing the elevator with him at his retirement community. He decided to take up archery at the age of 92, and at the age of 96 won his first gold medal at the National Senior Games. Edwards told the Washington Post that it only took him about a year to master the sport and entered into his first competition in 2013 at the National Senior Games. Edwards came in last place but that didn’t stop him. He continued to practice and persevered and at the 2015 games he finally took home a gold medal. “I love it. I have fun with it,” said Edwards. “It keeps me mostly in good shape.”

Edythe Kirchmaier All 105-year-old Edythe Kirchmaier wanted for her birthday was to tell the world about her favorite charity—Direct Relief International. After volunteering for the worldwide philanthropic organization that delivers medical assistance to victims of disaster for over 40 years, Kirchmaier turned to social media and used it to make her birthday wish come true. Her wish—to get 105,000 people to “Like” the Direct Relief Facebook page. Less than two months after her birthday, Kirchmaier’s wish came true. Thanks to her initiative, Direct Relief now has over 122,000 Facebook fans.

Fauja Singh As a child, Fauja Singh was forced to give up his passion for running to support his family by becoming a farmer. Some seventy years later, Singh returned to running to cope with the death of his son and wife. Since then, Singh has run nine marathons and countless other smaller races. He was named the World’s Oldest Marathoner by Guinness World Records after completing the 2011 Toronto Marathon at the fabulous age of 100.