Age Is No Obstacle for Those Who Dream Big
May is Older Americans Month and we’d like to take a moment to recognize those seniors – Americans and otherwise – who didn’t let age get in the way of their hopes and desires. These courageous individuals demonstrate that age is no barrier to achieving one’s deepest passions. Please join us in celebrating the idea that pursuing one’s dreams has no age limit.
Barbara Hillary was the first African-American to reach the North Pole, at age 75. Four years later, at age 79, she reached the South Pole, making her the first African-American woman to reach both poles. Barbara, who turns 84 in June, continues her adventures around the globe. Barbara lives in New York City and still lectures about her amazing life.
Mann Kaur became the world’s fastest centenarian by clinching gold in 100-meter race at American Masters Games in Vancouver, with a record time of 1 minute 21 seconds. She is looking to break her own record in the World Master Championship in September of this year. Attending the event was Fauja Singh, who, at the age of 100, became the first centenarian to complete a marathon, when he ran the Toronto marathon with a time of 8:11:06. He went on to carry the Olympic torch during the 2004 games in Athens and again in 2012 in London. In 2016, he ran in the Mumbai Marathon.
Kimani Maruge, at the age of 84, enrolled in primary school in Eldoret, Kenya after the government announced universal and free education. He holds the Guinness World Record for the oldst person to attend primary school. He was such an inspiration that in 2005, he boarded a plane for the first time in his life to fly to New York to address the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education. He passed away in 2009.
In 2012, Robert Marchand became the fastest long-distance cyclist over the age of 100 after he pedaled 15 miles in an hour. In 2014, Marchand managed about 16.7 miles in one hour, the record for racers over 100. Last August, he claimed the world road racing championship in the over-105 category.
Johanna Quaas has been designated by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest gymnast and regularly competes around the world. In 2015, she decided to jump out of a plane in honor of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, who also turned 90 that year.
Tamae Watanabe, a Japanese mountain climber, became the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest in May 2002 at the age of 63. Not satisfied with that achievement, 10 years later, she climbed Everest again, at the age of 73, breaking her own record.
Minoru Saito, also from Japan, sailed around the world by himself seven times. To make it a bit more challenging, on the eighth trip, he sailed the “wrong way” – westward, against prevailing winds and currents. It took him 1080 days to complete the task. He was 77 years old when he completed the trip.
Nola Ochs received her college degree in 2007 from Fort Hays State University, at the age of 95, becoming the nation’s oldest college graduate. Graduating with a 3.7 GPA — alongside her 21-year-old granddaughter! — wasn’t quite enough. Ochs decided to get her master’s degree in liberal studies, which she received in May 2010 at the age of 98.