SEMINOLE, Fla. — She runs, she bikes, she swims — there isn’t anything 81-year-old Rosie Ray of Seminole won’t try.
It’s one of the reasons why she’s been asked to be a Humana Game Changer for this month’s National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale.
“Be healthy in mind and body and make every day count, every day you can go out and do something,” said Rosie, who will be competing in the triathlon.
Rosie credits her late husband Robert for introducing her to the event.
“He would run and I would walk and we’d get in the pool and he would swim laps and I would swim a lap,” said Rosie.
However, it was during an evening swim session in 2002 that the triathlon took on a whole new meaning for Rosie.
“I heard sirens going and then I got a call, Robert was on the pool deck and I needed to get to the pool, and I got there and they were trying to revive him,” said Rosie.
Robert Ray died of a heart attack. It prompted Rosie to start the St. Pete Mad Dog Charities Robert Ray Defibrillator Fund.
“With the idea of raising money to buy defibrillators so that no one else would die at the pool,” said Rosie.
However, defibrillators aren’t the only way Rosie is keeping her husband’s memory alive, she's competed in more than 40 triathlons.
“People pass me on the bike and say, 'way to go, way to go girl,'” said Rosie. “And then you pass someone who is 32 and that person, they get their butt in gear, and they are passing me because you know it stimulates them.”
This month Rosie faces the ultimate test with the National Senior Games. She knows during every stride, pedal and stroke Robert will be right alongside her.
“He’d be, ‘come on Ro, you can do this, come on you can do it, let’s speed her up,’” said Rosie.