May 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Slowly But Surely 105-Year-Old Woman Becomes Oldest Bloomsday Finisher Ever

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Cecelia Kelly knows the young at heart stay that way.

So, wearing her red-and-white Sylvester cap at a jaunty angle, the 105-year-old Cheney woman refused to be pushed across the Bloomsday finish line on Sunday.

Three hours and 19 minutes into the race, Kelly pulled a pair of canes from a leather shotgun holster, gripped one in each hand and shuffled her way into the record books.

“That’s the spirit of Bloomsday, right there in that 105-year-old woman,” the public-address announcer said.

Kelly became the oldest finisher in race history, officials say.

Her reaction: “Can I sit down yet?” An entourage of relatives wearing Kelly’s picture on their T-shirts took turns pushing her wheelchair most of the way.

When a relative first suggested the idea last month, Kelly was apprehensive.

But those fears dissolved during a morning warmed by the sun and countless compliments from fellow Bloomies.

“I wasn’t doing all the work, so I enjoyed it,” she said with a grin.

Kelly grew up in an era before cars and electricity in the home. The former teacher and chicken farmer spent more than 90 years on a farm in Cheney.

The centenarian’s secret to longevity is refusing to act old. Saturday’s pre-race dinner included steak, turkey and strawberry shortcake.

Kelly could do without the hard-rocking Bloomsday bands, but she was spellbound by the endless people-watching possibilities.

“Now I say I might try it again,” she said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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