Orville and the Hurricane


Orville Rogers photo credit: Rob Jerome | Julia Hawkins photo courtesy Lad Hawkins

We love comeback stories. We love stories in which ordinary people are able to live extraordinary lives because they are curious, fearless and determined. We love stories that not only entertain but also inspire. We love stories that have the potential to immediately change the lives of those who hear them.

We recently conducted two amazing interviews that will be featured on Growing Bolder Radio in the weeks ahead but we wanted to give you a first listen because both interviews share these kinds of stories.

The life lessons contained in our interviews with Orville Rogers and Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins are profound and can benefit people of all ages.

Orville Rogers trained fighter pilots in World War II and flew the B-36 on secret missions in the Korean War. After the war was over, he flew jungle missions all over the world and enjoyed a 31-year career as a pilot for Braniff Airways.

At the age of 50, Orville began running for the first time ever. In 2008, at age 90, he entered his first national championship and the rest is history. Literally. He has set 16 world records and now holds nearly every American and world record in both the 90-94 and 95-99 year old age groups.

The fact that Orville is still running and anxiously looking forward to his 100th birthday next year so that he can “age up” and begin rewriting the 100-104 year record book is nothing shot of remarkable.

He has fought through multiple health challenges, including bypass surgery to open six blocked arteries, and in 2011, at the age of 93, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left arm, hip and leg. Instead of giving up on running and retiring to the couch or wheelchair, Orville requested the most intense rehabilitation program possible. His doctor obliged and within months, Orville was back on the track competing.

Asked about his philosophy for achieving active longevity Orville tells Growing Bolder, “I am in accord with Winston Churchill’s famous saving never give up. Never, never give up.”

Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins recently became the oldest female competitor ever when she won the 100-meter dash and set a new world record in the 100-104 year old age group at the 2017 USA Track and Field National Masters Championships.

Amazingly, Julia didn’t start running until she was 100. “I had been competing in biking,” she tells Growing Bolder. “But I quit when there were no other women to compete with. It isn’t any fun unless there is someone else out there you’re trying to beat.”

Now 101, she’s discovered a passion she never imagined would change her life.

Julia had strong legs from cycling and knew she could run because she always runs to answer her phone. “In the old days, we didn’t have answering machines and you never wanted to miss a call, especially one that was long distance, so we always ran to answer the phone. I still do to this day.”

But could she run 100-meters in a track meet? We asked Julia how she overcame the fear that prevents most elderly people from getting out and experiencing life. “I did have many fears,” she admitted to us. “I was afraid of falling down, of embarrassing my family and even of dying. I even took care of a few things at home in case I didn’t come back. But I looked that fear in the face and I ran.”

Enjoy these inspiring and enlightening interviews and learn how Orville and Julia prove that it’s never too late take up a new sport and enjoy the many benefits of competing. They’ll also teach you how it’s possible to bounce back from serious health setbacks, even at an advanced age, and why risk-taking is an important part of aging.