WEST CHESTER, PA — Marking a 100th birthday is special anytime but marking it during a pandemic is truly unique. Scheduled between her four daily workouts, Judge Judy and an afternoon cocktail, the 100th birthday party for Mary Atkins of West Chester won’t soon be forgotten – most guests will stay in their cars. That is only a minor detail, however.
The staff and members of the Oscar Lasko YMCA have coordinated a birthday caravan for 10 am on Thursday, April 23 to celebrate Atkin’s 100th birthday. Atkins is a long-time member of the YMCA. More than a dozen YMCA members and staff – as well as family members – will drive by Atkins’ home honking their horns while singing Happy Birthday.
Some will share messages from the sidewalk in front of Atkins’ home, which will be decorated for the special day. Another several dozen Y members created videos congratulating Atkins on reaching her centennial birthday.
“Mary is truly a one-of-a-kind, special woman who brightens the day of everyone she meets – both in and out of our Y,” said Steffani Witmer, who served as Executive Director of the Oscar Lasko YMCA for many years and recently became Executive Director of the Lionville Community YMCA. “We couldn’t let such a milestone in Mary’s life go by without her knowing how much she means to each of us. We can celebrate her while still practicing social distancing and ensuring everyone remains safe and healthy.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atkins visited and worked out at the Oscar Lasko YMCA in West Chester three days a week. She is a fixture and inspiration to all who cross paths with her.
Despite the Y being closed, Atkins hasn’t let this pandemic slow her down. She exercises for 20 minutes four times a day on her new treadmill and elliptical, and plans to return to the YMCA when it is permitted to reopen.
“I feel 20 years younger than I actually am,” says Atkins. “I think it’s because I’ve always been so physically active my whole life.”
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