People Who Fulfilled Their Dreams Later in Life
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. We recently discussed the dangers of ageism. 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 86 in June, continues her adventures around the globe. Barbara lives in New York City and still lectures about her amazing life.
Fauja Singh, 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. Fauja started running in his 80s after moving to London.
Kimani Maruge, at the age of 84, enrolled in primary school in Eldoret, Kenya after the government announced universal and free education. 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.
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.
James C. Warren, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and former navigator of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces, received his pilot’s license at the age of 87, making him the oldest person in the world to do so. James lived in Vacaville, California.
Harry Bernstein, at age 96, published his first book, The Invisible Wall, a heartwarming look at how love can break down walls. It speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. He wrote the book as a way to cope with his loneliness after his wife, Ruby, passed away. Harry lived in Brick Township, New Jersey.