number 100 candle on top of white birthday cake

National Centenarian’s Day: Seven Inspiring Achievements Accomplished by Centennials

We know that staying active and engaging the mind are two essential parts of a quality senior care plan. While not every 100-year-old will be running marathons or skydiving, they can still achieve incredible things.

What is National Centenarian’s Day?

On September 22nd, America celebrated National Centenarian’s Day. On this day, we celebrate all the incredible accomplishments those aged 100 years old and beyond have made.

One of the best parts about National Centenarian’s Day is that it inspires seniors to keep dreaming, no matter their age!

Seven Inspiring Achievements Accomplished by Centennials

Below are seven stories of centennials to remind us that age is just a number.

1.    Fauja Singh Completed a Marathon

Fauja Singh is a 111-year-old Indian-born British man who completed his first marathon in 2000 at age 89. The long-distance runner finished his last marathon at 110 in Hong Kong. While he surely set a world record or two, Singh was born before India started administering birth certificates. This means he won’t make it into the Guinness Book of World Records, but he’ll still be remembered as one of the most inspiring senior athletes.

2.    Lela Burden Earned her High School Diploma

You’re never too old to learn. Lela Burden was 111 years old when she got her high school diploma after dropping out nearly 100 years prior. Shortly before her birthday, Lela said she “wasn’t old yet” and still considers herself a young lady. That mindset helped her pursue her education 96 years after the 1918 pandemic closed her high school resulting in her working two jobs.

Being one of the world’s oldest women didn’t impact Ms. Burden’s self-image, especially considering she lived to 112 years of age. The Virginia native was happy to live life to the fullest each day, often taking trips to the shopping mall and zoo.

3.    Bo Gilbert Modeled for Vogue

Appearing in Vogue is a lifelong dream for many models. Bo Gilbert achieved the feat at 100 years old. She is the first woman of her age to ever appear in a fashion publication, and she says that her love of clothes and accessories encourages her to try things other people her age probably wouldn’t.

Her photo shoot commemorated the 100th anniversary of British Vogue.

“I love wearing nice things,” she said as she recalled how fashion evolved throughout the decades. Her grace and style were undeniable in the images, and she made it clear that everything she does is for herself. “I certainly don’t dress up for boys,” she proudly stated.

4.    Fred Mack Went Skydiving

It would take many of us a lifetime to build up the courage to go skydiving. For 100-year-old Fred Mack, the decision took five years. At 95, he performed his first jump, and on his 100th birthday, he did it again – plummeting 13,000 feet in a tandem dive with an instructor.

However, the New Jersey resident wasn’t a total stranger to the skies. He used to fly planes and worked as an engineer during World War II. Mr. Mack had always been a thrill seeker, evidenced by his love and passion for competitive skiing.

After his remarkable achievement, people were eager to ask Mr. Mack how he felt. His response? “I’m still alive.”

5.    Frank Shearer Actively Water-Skied

Most exercises geared toward senior citizens are gentle and low-impact, yet Frank Shearer still actively waterskied after 100. The retired physician also rode horses and was featured in a National Geographic magazine article about longevity.

Mr. Shearer accredited his long life to being such an active person. He recounted how waterskiing had changed dramatically since his youth when he and his friends would coast along the currents strapped to ply boards.

For his 100th birthday celebration, Mr. Shearer’s sons took him on a waterskiing trip in stunning Acapulco, Mexico.

6.    Julie Hawkins Set a Track and Field World Record

Most people probably think senior citizens set world records for living a long time, but Julie Hawkins proved there are more impressive things to do.

Bearing the nickname “Hurricane,” Ms. Hawkins took up sprinting when she was 100. At 105, she set the world record for running 100m in 62.95 seconds. She said she was happy to see all her family and friends cheer her on, but she would have loved to have broken the record in under 1 minute.

The retired teacher previously competed in the National Senior Games and said she only stopped cycling when there was no one left for her to compete against.

Ms. Hawkins advised anyone who wants to live a long time to “stay active” if they want to be as healthy and happy as possible.

7.    Teiichi Igarashi Reached the Summit of Mt. Fuji

Scaling Mt. Fuji is one of the most impressive athletic accomplishments. Teiichi Igarashi conquered the climb in 1987 at 100. With just heavy socks on his feet, the centenarian climbed 12,385 feet to the top of the mountain after three days. He cited encouragement from supporters as his strength.

Mr. Igarashi previously worked as a lumberjack, then retired and led a simple life. He initially climbed Mt. Fuji in 1979 at 80, carrying a photo of his late wife, and became the oldest climber at 96 when he made the journey again in 1983. He woke up every day at 6 am, had a 1-hour nap after lunch, walked 2 hours each day, and went to bed at 8 pm.

His venture up Mt. Fuji inspired other seniors to try it as well.

What They Teach Us

These incredible seniors remind us that you’re never too old to do something you want to do. Although we may face particular challenges as we age, many achievements are still within our grasp.

National Centenarian’s Day is a reminder to us and all of the seniors in our lives to stay active and follow our dreams.

Setting goals motivates seniors to move and expand their worlds. While many might not be able to run marathons, they can still lead enriching, exciting lives, especially with the right assistance. Contact Reflections Management and Care today if you would like to discover how our homecare services can help your aging loved one.

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