Betty Jean LaGrange is not your typical 91-year old. She grew up in Berne, New York on a farm, and her favorite pastime was playing in the woods. When her daughter married Tom Deck and moved down to North Carolina, she relocated to Grantville to be closer to them and her other daughter, Barbara, about twenty years ago.
Always an active person, she moved to Cross Road Retirement Community five years ago and often participates in their activities and trips. While attending a recent seminar held at the facility, the speaker asked the room – “What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do.” Susanne Allen, the Activities Director for Cross Road happened to be in the room when Betty Jean mentioned that ziplining was on her ‘bucket list.’ Susanne reached out to Betty on Friday to find out if this was something she really wanted to do. When she confirmed it, Susanne started making calls and after looking at the long range weather forecast, set up the ziplining experience at Richland Creek Zipline for the following Wednesday through the Dream Makers program at Cross Road.
Dream Makers mission is to make dreams come true while opportunity remains for their residents. Meeting this goal will enhance the quality of life of the residents by making a reality of the dreams they dare to dream. Dream Makers is made up of staff, family members and those from the community whose desire is to show care, love and respect for those in the winter of their youth who reside at Cross Road.
“I never knew she was this adventurous!” Susanne told me. “This is the Dream Makers program’s 50th wish to be granted in the five years that the program has existed.”
Her daughter, Barbara Moak, drove up from Gastonia to watch her mother zipline and planned to take her out to eat at Wendy’s after the day’s activity. “It surprised me when she called to tell me she was going to zipline.” She laughed and confided, “I didn’t even know she had a bucket list. I didn’t know if I should try to talk her out of it, but she’s very independent and you can’t tell her what to do, so I didn’t.” Tom Dent, her widowed son-in-law, was also in attendance and accompanying her on the zipline.
Betty was very patient when they arrived at the zipline as they set up the safety gear she would be wearing. In addition to Asheboro Magazine, there were news crews from WFMY and Fox 8 there to shoot video, and they were setting Betty up with GoPro equipment on her helmet and attached to her harness. She was smiling and joking with the crews, and didn’t seem a bit nervous about going on the zipline.
She quietly listened to the instructors explain the procedures, and how to slow down and speed up and how to approach the platforms for landing. She was going in “tandem” with one of the instructors and her son-in-law would follow.
After the first couple of lines, Betty seemed to settle right in and enjoy herself. When the group reached the part of the trail where there is a waterfall, she hiked down to the river and posed for photos, before hiking back up the trail and continuing on to the next platform.
She did very well, and seemed to be really enjoying herself if the wide smile on her face as she came to a landing was any indication. In all, she traversed eight lines that day, including the longest and highest runs.
When asked how she was feeling about her day, she told us “Good. They just keep getting better and better!” When asked by a reporter why she chose ziplining, she said, “I just thought it looked like so much fun!”
She set a record as the oldest person to zipline at Richland Creek.
“Sometimes we think we are too old to do something, but she’s proven you are never too old! It’s hard to believe she is 91, she’s done really well today.” Wanda Cox said, owner of Richland Creek Zipline.