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5 Amazing Seniors Busting Every Aging Stereotype

National Senior Citizens Day has been celebrated in America since 1988, but often flies under the radar. The day was created by President Reagan when he put forth a presidential proclamation recognizing August 21st as a day to honor the contributions of older Americans to their communities.
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National Senior Citizens Day has been celebrated in America since 1988, but often flies under the country's radar. The day was created by President Ronald Reagan when he put forth a presidential proclamation recognizing August 21st as a day to honor the contributions of older Americans to their communities.

President Reagan's sentiment that "... older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders ... older people are embarking on second careers, giving younger Americans a fine example of responsibility, resourcefulness, competence, and determination," still rings true today.

Older Americans are more active and inspiring than ever before. In fact, some of them have achieved incredible accomplishments that many younger people have not or cannot. The list of people highlighted below are just a handful of some of the amazing seniors that are living in America today. In my research, I came across an impressive amount of seniors who have reached great heights in their later years. We young people can learn a lot about determination and reinvention from their stories. After all, it's never too late to change your life.

The Ironman: Lew Hollander
It's called Ironman for a reason -- the race is one of the toughest triathlons you can endure as an athlete. At 85, Lew Hollander is the oldest Ironman competitor in the world. He broke the Guinness Book of World Records three years ago at the age of 82, and is prepping for his 59th Ironman race this year.

The Oregon native decided to compete in his first Ironman competition at the age of 55, when he was looking for new challenges after retiring.

"Use it or lose it," Hollander says when asked for the secret of his longevity. "Don't say, 'Ow, my knee hurts'. If you get out and use it, your body will tend to make it better again. The only things you can control are the quality of your life and the length of your life. So go anaerobic every day. That's when you run out of air. It's not rocket science, you just run until you can't breathe anymore."

Badass Grandma: Edith Wilma Connor
Edith Wilma Connor was feeling bored in her data processing job and decided to start lifting weights to challenge herself. She was in her 60s at the time, and by the age of 65, decided to enter into her first Bodybuilding Competition in Las Vegas -- and won!

Today, at 80, Connor holds the Guinness World Record for "Oldest Living Female Bodybuilder" which she accomplished in 2012. She is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to 16 children and lives in Denver, Colorado. She still works out at least three times a week and recognizes bodybuilding as being her "salvation".

The Cyclist: John Sanmartini
John Sanmartini has loved riding a bicycle since he was a young boy. At the age of 55, he took up competitive cycling after reaching retirement. Sanmartini has been a competitive cyclist in both the Huntsman World Senior Games and the National Senior Games for over 25 years. He was recently inducted into the Huntsman World Senior Games Hall of Fame and admits to training at least five days a week, on three different bicycles.

"I don't do it just for bicycle riding; I like to race, be a little competitive," Sanmartini told the Examiner in 2011. "[Bicycling] is good for your health. You have to be in some kind of shape; you got to have enough sleep, eat, and drink to be able to race. It's competitive. It takes work to do it. At my age if I stay off too long it is hard to come back racing."

The Adventurer: Geneva Eskrivge
Geneva Eskrivage, a 92-year-old grandmother, decided to try skydiving for the first time last year after she was diagnosed with cancer. It had always been a lifelong dream of hers to jump out of a plane.

Being able to cross skydiving off of her bucket list, was a greatly rewarding experience. While her cancer diagnosis helped to give her the confidence to finally take that leap out of a plane, Eskrivage hopes to inspire others to be able to do the same.

"When I was told I had cancer I decided I better start living," she told a local news station in her home state of Idaho.

The Quick Study: Charlie Edwards
Charlie Edwards never really considered archery at all until he struck up a conversation with a man sharing the elevator with him at his retirement community. He decided to take up archery at the age of 92, and now, at the age of 96, just won his first gold medal at the National Senior Games.

Edwards told the Washington Post that it only took him about a year to master the sport and entered into his first competition in 2013 at the National Senior Games. The fact that Edwards came in last place, didn't stop him; he continued to practice and persevered and at the 2015 games this past July, he finally took home a gold medal.

"I love it. I have fun with it," said Edwards. "It keeps me mostly in good shape. If I just continue, it's gonna keep me alive."

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Betty White
AP
Doesn't it seem like Betty White has been around since David torpedoed Goliath with a slingshot? Our favorite golden girl is only 94 though. Even though Miss Betty White began her career in the 1940s on radio, and later appeared on late night talk shows and game shows (including "Password") in the 50s and 60s, she wasn't really a household name until, at the age of 51, she began playing "The Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1973-1977).
Morgan Freeman
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Who doesn't love Morgan Freeman? This Academy Award winner paid his dues and then some. Freeman worked for several years as an actor, but really came into his own playing chauffeur Hoke Colburn in "Driving Miss Daily" at the age of 52 (although he was 50 when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Street Smart").
Sharon Osbourne
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Heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne has been famous for over 40 years as lead singer of the English band Black Sabbath. His wife, Sharon, however, did not become a household name until their family reality show "The Osbournes" premiered on MTV in 2002. Just barely 50, Sharon became a media darling, which opened up many doors. She went on to become a judge on "America's Got Talent" and has been co-host of the CBS daytime show "The Talk" since it debuted in October 2010.
Regis Philbin
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Regis Philbin was comedian Joey Bishop's sidekick on the ABC television show "The Joey Bishop Show" from 1967 to 1969 and hosted his own local talk show -- "A.M. Los Angeles" -- from 1975 to 1983. But his name wasn't exactly on the tip of our collective tongues until he became a daytime staple with Kathie Lee Gifford in 1988 on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" when he was 57. His vibrant, caustic, yet fun-loving personality pushed him over the top sometime after the show began to gain in popularity with daytime viewers.
Abe Vigoda
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Born in 1921, Abe Vigoda captured the role of Salvatore Tessio in the film "The Godfather" in 1972 at the age of 51. His next big role came in 1975 when he signed on to play Sgt. Phil Fish on the television series "Barney Miller." And that's when Vigoda -- who passed away in 2016 -- really became a household name.
Tom Bergeron
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Sure, Tom Bergeron became the host of "Hollywood Squares" in 1998 and of "America's Funniest Home Videos" in 2001, but he didn't really become widely known until joining the wildly popular "Dancing With the Stars." The amiable host was 50 when the show premiered in 2005. After more than 20 seasons as host, it appears he's a keeper.
Mike Wallace
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Maybe Mike Wallace was well-known in some hard-core news circles, and perhaps he was on a first-name basis with a few news junkies many moons ago, but it wasn't until he laid his groundwork as a superb gotcha reporter on "60 Minutes" which he did from 1968 (after he turned 50) until 2008 -- that his star really began to shine. This well-respected news journalist sadly passed away on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93.
Samuel L. Jackson
Gabe Ginsberg via Getty Images
Born in 1948, Samuel L. Jackson appeared in more than 100 films before the age of 40. However, it was only after he landed the role of a hitman in "Pulp Fiction" in 1994 that his star really began to shine. For this performance, Jackson received a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Andy Rooney
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Andy Rooney is another personality that seems to have been around since the beginning of time, and we're all glad to have been the recipients of his off-the-wall satirical takes on human nature. In 1978, at the age of 59, Rooney began his "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" segment on the CBS news show "60 Minutes," continuing through 2011. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us think. It doesn't get better than that. Rooney died on November 4, 2011 at the age of 92 only a few weeks after his last appearance on the show.
Joy Behar
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Joy Behar was 54 when she was cast as one of the original members of "The View," which made its debut in August 1997. A few years before that, you could catch Behar doing hilarious stand-up comedy on television. But she only became a household name sometime after "The View" became a must-see, daytime television talk show.