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PBS Seeks Adventurer’s Advice

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For the PBS program, Donna Wagner, director of the Center for Productive Aging at Towson University, came to Richmond to interview Kimball. The documentary shows Kimball riding her bicycle along Monument Avenue and hiking in James River Park. She joins actress Doris Roberts and sculptor Bob Berks in examining issues of concern to seniors.

Kimball seems excited, though not surprised, by the exposure. Calling herself the Aging Adventurer, she regularly speaks to audiences about her ideas of “creatively” growing old.

She’s no superhero, she says, just a senior citizen with a lot of life left and the inclination, if not always the energy, to make her dreams come true.

Apart from tennis, cycling and hiking are her passions. When Kimball decided in 1992 to ride her bike across country and hike the Appalachian Trail, she didn’t let her poor hearing or osteoporosis stand in her way.

“I use my adventures as a platform to speak about goals and the risks you must take to make dreams happen,” she says, adding: “My message is actually ageless.”

It’s one that preaches perseverance more than strength or speed. When a stress fracture threatened to halt her dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail in a single trip, Kimball decided to set a different goal. She hiked one month each year, and after nine she’d completed the 2,168 miles it takes to reach Maine’s highest mountain and the northern terminus of the trail, Mount Katahdin. That was two years ago, when she was 70.

“The last four miles were pure rock and I didn’t think I’d get over this one ledge,” she says. In a move she calls “miraculous,” Kimball learned to use the rock to her advantage. She reached the top, and now says, “You can’t let obstacles get in the way of your heart’s desire.” — Brandon Walters

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