Meaning and Purpose in Life as A Source of Longevity and Successful Aging: Join the Livingto100.Club

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Short Stories about Orville Roberts and Julia Hawkins

There was a recent article on the Growing Bolder website about a man who began running at the age of 50, for the first time ever. In 2008, he entered his first national running competition, and subsequently set 20 world records for older runners, including American and world records in the 90-94 and the 95-99 age ranges. His name was Orville Roberts. He passed away at age 101 earlier this month. However, he lived a remarkable 100+ years. His background includes serving as a fighter pilot in WW II and the Korean War, and then a 31-year career as a commercial airline pilot.

This gentleman survived bypass surgery and, at the age of 93, he had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side.  He did not give up running, though, and instead, underwent the most intense rehabilitation he could persuade his physician to provide, and within months returned to running.  His philosophy: “Never, never give up”. Talk about successful aging!

The second person pictured here is a woman by the name of Julia Hawkins, lovingly called “Hurricane” by her friends. Julia is also a record holder: she holds the world record for the fastest 100-meter dash in the 100-104 age group, which she won at the Track and Field National Masters Championships in 2017. And, like Orville Roberts, she also started running late – at age 100! She was a competitive biker until there were no other women with whom she could compete, so she turned to sprinting, after overcoming fears of embarrassing herself and her family, even a fear of of dying from the intense physical activity. She once said she would even take care of a few things at home in case she “didn’t come back” after a race. But as she said, “I looked that fear in the face and I ran”.

Who knows what motivates these and countless others in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s to push themselves off the couch, and take on new, daring adventures and physical demands? One likely possibility is the desire to stay connected to others, to stay committed to activity that provides meaning and purpose, and to be able to wake up each morning and ask our self, What is my goal for today – what do I want to accomplish? So, the takeaway here is to remember the lesson on longevity from the centenarians in the Blue Zones: hold on to – or find – whatever it is that offers a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

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Chief Curator of the Living to 100 Club, Dr. Joe Casciani, recently spoke at the Successful Aging Expo, sponsored by the San Diego Union Tribune, earlier this month. This was the 10th annual Successful Aging Expo, for anyone "wanting to make the most of life after 50". The title of his talk was, Fresh and Inspiring Perspectives on Living to 100.  If you are interested in this presentation for your organization, please send an email to jc@Livingto100.Club requesting more information.

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