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by Carole Carson, AARP, September 18, 2008
At age 48, Gayle married Fred Lossman, an avid runner who introduced her to the sport. She loved running and began competing in races with walkers and runners of all ages (from children to octogenarians) and skill levels.
Since then, Gayle, now 64 and a native of Nevada City, Calif., has competed in more than 100 races in the United States and in France and has competed in the national Senior Games in California and Arizona. She has won more than 50 medals for her age group. To celebrate turning 55, she ran her first marathon (26.2 miles). This was followed by additional marathons in Honolulu, Sacramento, Calif., and Los Angeles.
After running for 8 years, Gayle decided to make a complete life change. In the year 2000 at 56 years of age, she left her career in banking and insurance and became a certified fitness trainer. In 2002, in acknowledgment of her public contribution to community fitness, she was chosen to carry the Olympic torch, representing her county.
Gayle was later diagnosed with a tumor on her kidney. Recovery from surgery in early February 2005 was set back by a number of serious complications. The anticipated 8- to 10-week recovery would now take several months.
Without wavering in her commitment to return to her former level of fitness, Gayle had to take baby steps to regain her strength. She began with one- to two-minute walks and slowly increased her stamina. She taped a note on her bathroom mirror: "You have a job. And your job is to get well. And today is a good day to get better." She also prayed for healing. Her goal was to return to her fitness center and to her exercise class for seniors.
After her recovery, Gayle and her fitness center were selected to lead her county's SilverSneakers® program, one of the nation's leading fitness programs for older adults.
Like Gayle, the seniors in her class have lived life—they are survivors of cancer, heart attacks, and joint replacements, and they battle Parkinson's and other diseases. They're enjoying their lives by getting fit, having fun, and making friends. They inspire Gayle to keep going, just as she now inspires all of us to get up, move, and rejoice in the life we have.
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