Centenarians Take Time to Dance and Fly

Mar 20, 2012 1:39pm

Two centenarians are making headlines today for being more adventurous than most people half their age. In Arizona a 102-year-old woman is preparing to compete in a ballroom dance competition, while in Utah a 101-year-old great grandmother just broke the record for being the “Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem.”

In Scottsdale, Ariz., 102-year-old Victoria Harvey is getting attention for her moves on the dance floor as she rehearses for her dance competition in May. Harvey picked up ballroom dancing 15 years ago and now favors the tango and fox trot.

“I think it’s good physical exercise and it makes me feel like you can open up more to other people,” Harvey told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV.

While many may be surprised by a 102-year-old dance contestant, Dr. Evenlyn Granieri, of the New York-Presbyterian Geriatric Medicine and Aging Center, says that as people live longer more elderly people are taking on new and active hobbies.

“It’s not age per se that defines what you can do but rather the status of your overall health,” Granieri told ABCNews.com. “If you’re cognitively able to start new hobbies and start new things, they help with quality of life.”

One woman who has taken that to heart is Mary Hardison of Ogden, Utah, who was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem” at age 101.  Although the flight took place last September, with Hardison even performing tricks in the air, the record was officially recognized on Tuesday.

With her flight Hardison broke the previous record set in 2007, when a 100-year-old Cyprus woman took flight.

In a Guinness questionnaire Hardison, who had celebrated turning 90 by riding all the Disneyland rides, revealed that she had not been apprehensive about the flight.

“If it’s safe for them, then it’s safe for me,”  explained Hardison, whose 75-year-old son took up hang gliding as a hobby.

In spite of her accomplishment, Hardison hopes that her record is soon surpassed by another able-bodied centenarian looking for a thrill.

“My desire is for the elderly to keep on going. Do things as long as you are physically able,” Hardison said. “Be positive. Friends don’t like a grumpy person.”

The AP contributed to this report.

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