Act Your Age? Seniors Defy Their Birth Certificates By Performing Incredible Feats

Being a senior citizen does not mean being a second-class citizen.

Seniors make valuable contributions to society. Even when they are no longer running marathons, jumping out of airplanes and graduating from college.

But, you know what? Some seniors are actually continuing to do those very things… and a whole lot more.

Today we’re going to look at what eight seniors have done to defy the odds. Some of these feats will come as a big surprise. Especially to those who believe older folks just sit around waiting for their Social Security to come in.

Running & Racing

In 2015, Harriette Thompson became the oldest woman to finish a marathon. The 92-year-old had a time of 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds. She would have crossed the finish line sooner, but admirers wanted pictures of her during the race.

She was a two-time cancer survivor at the time. And she raised more than $100,000 for cancer research through her running. Before she started running, Thompson was a concert pianist who performed at Carnegie Hall.

Sixty-nine-year-old Danny Thompson, no relation, recently set a land speed record in a 50-year-old car that had been owned by his father. He set the record for piston-powered, wheel-driven cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

His average speed over two days was 448.757 miles per hour. Danny’s father brought the car to Utah in 1968 and restored it for Danny.

Stunting & Stepping

At age 70, she was still jumping through glass windows and escaping from burning buildings. Why? Because Jeannie Epper was “the greatest stuntwoman who’s ever lived,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

She served as Lynda Carter’s stunt double in the TV series Wonder Woman, as well as in movies including Minority Report and The Fast and the Furious. The great-grandmother has appeared in more than 100 Hollywood films.

Hank Brunjes started dancing at age 4 and was part of the original cast of West Side Story in 1957. And even at age 78, he was a regular in the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies in California.

Singing and dancing in the follies for up to 200 shows a year kept Hank feeling young. “These are some of the best years of my life,” he said. “When you’re performing, you’re able to express yourself on stage, and that has a cleansing effect.”

Jumping and Judging

Georgina Harwood could have had a few family members and friends over for her 100th birthday. Instead, she performed a tandem parachute jump from a plane. The South African great-grandmother had made her first tandem jump at age 92.

Two days after her birthday jump, Georgina went cage diving with great white sharks. Her jump raised funds for South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute, while her dive brought awareness to overfishing practices.

Wesley Brown was a federal judge on the Kansas District Court until age 104. To provide a glimpse into how long he served, he was appointed to his position by 35th President John F. Kennedy.

Brown was rather feisty well into his senior years, frequently showing anger in and out of his chambers. But colleagues called him inspirational and said he was as mentally astute as ever in his later years. He was once quoted as saying, “I’m not interested in how old I am. I’m interested in how good a job I can do.”

Lifting & Learning

According to the book titled Guinness World Records, Ernestine Shepherd was the world’s oldest female body builder at age 74. She also worked as a certified personal trainer at a gym in Baltimore, Maryland.

She would get out of bed at 3 a.m. every day to run, logging about 80 miles a week. And in her spare time, she lifted weights for exercise, bench-pressing 150 pounds. At 78, she was quoted as saying, “I feel better than I did at 40.”

Emphasizing brain over brawn, Nola Ochs became the nation’s oldest college graduate at age 95. She started her higher education in 1930 at Kansas State College (now Fort Hays State University) and completed it with a bachelor’s degree in 2007.

Just in case anyone thought that was a fluke, the mother of four, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 15 went on to earn a master’s degree at Fort Hays at age 98. Ochs told the school’s newspaper, “Our education is never complete.”

What About Us?

Even if most of us can’t run a marathon or win a weight lifting contest, some of us can become more physically active than we have been recently.

Dr. Terry Grossman, author of Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, says this. “No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start living a healthier, more active, more engaging lifestyle.”

I’d encourage all of us to step up our game when it comes to physical exercise, assuming we’re capable of it and we get our doctor’s OK. Then next time I touch on this subject, maybe I’ll be writing about you.


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