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New KPBS Documentary Series Explores Inspirational Aging

Richard Williams, an 81-year-old competitive runner who is profiled in the documentary, "Re'flect Successful Aging Defined," is pictured in this undated photo.
KPBS Staff
Richard Williams, an 81-year-old competitive runner who is profiled in the documentary, "Re'flect Successful Aging Defined," is pictured in this undated photo.

New KPBS Documentary Series Explores Inspirational Aging
New KPBS Documentary Series Explores Inspirational Aging GUESTS: Heidi Rataj, director and producer, Re'flect, Successful Aging Defined Richard Williams, 81-year-old competitive runner who lives in Coronado

Sandy Aikins have a certain age sometimes think of her time as a time they can relax and do nothing. A new documentary series finds that a good retirement is not like that at all. It is more like the dedication of an 81-year-old competitive runner or the commitment of a 69-year-old LGBT community activist. KPBS television will broadcast the second episode of a new documentary series reflex successful aging defined this Thursday about San Diegans who are contributing to society well past retirement age. KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh spoke with Heidi who is the director and producer and also with Richard Williams who is an 81-year-old competitive runner who is featured on this week's episode. Why do you think we need a series like this? Older people are already involved in every phase of life from the business to the arts to government so why this series. There is a couple reasons. The first is that for my perspective what we hear more commonly is aging crisis silver tsunami what are we going to deal with all of our baby boomers, what are we going to do with art infrastructure and how will we pay for, and most of it sounds pretty negative that caused me to have fear. I did not have that experience either I lived with my mother who is 77 and is a vibrant happy active person. With all of her trials and tribulations from spine surgery to recent breast cancer she always had a big smile on her face and was constantly bacon and engaged with the neighborhood and I thought what is going on here why are you so happy. What we discovered is that -- they are engaged and working as volunteers. There contributing the community. They are running marathons. What we can gain from that is paying attention to an older adult population because we will all be there. In the episode -- how much is your running tied up your feeling of well-being as you get older. I know that if I can't run I am not very happy. My goal is to be able to go out and run at least four times a week. And once I do that I will have a good day. How many races are you in each year? Each year my wife and I run 40 to 45 racist.. That's a lot for everybody. You also work for the Coronado society. I have been selected -- the folks on the tumor We have Sharon who is an active volunteer in the Jewish community center a stitcher in the second theater program and an usher at the San Diego Symphony. What we found about Sharon is that she is using public transportation due to a chronic disability. That captured our attention because San Diego can sometimes -- they looked at me and said why are you doing a gay person and I said I don't know. They said you are gay aren't you? And I said yeah and I went to the LGBT senior affirming North Park senior housing groundbreaking and met Kelly and I have to tell this story as well. Richard Williams are people amazed at what you can accomplish at this age? Yes as a matter of fact I raced just this past Saturday and we ran two races this weekend one Saturday and one Sunday 25 case -- two five case. Is part that's quite a group of folks that come over and asked me for my secrets. And they want to know what I do that motivates me to continue to do this. What did you tell them? I told them that my motivation is mainly because if I know that I can get my body moving in the daytime I can be surviving and wake up the next day. What are you helping people take away from watching these episodes? I want anybody to think -- that is thinking about aging or considers himself an older adult to not be scared because I was scared and every time I went to interview and spend time with Richard or Bill or Fred or Luis or Carmen or Sharon I always left with hope. So aging is beautiful. Aging is the new cool. Aging is something not to be frightened of but something to embrace. It is a period of time where you can turn on all the things that you learned and you can try things that are new.

An 81-year-old competitive runner, a 71-year-old woman who doesn't let her age or disability prevent her from volunteering all over San Diego and getting around using public transportation. KPBS television is broadcasting a new 6-part documentary series, "Re'flect, Successful Aging Defined." The second episode airs Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

The series, which is part of the KPBS Explore Project, which helps launch and provide seed funding for locally produced television and radio programs, is about San Diegans who are thriving well-past retirement age.

Richard Williams, the 81-year-old competitive runner who lives in Coronado, is featured in the second episode.

"I would say that my running is 100 percent tied up to my feeling of well being," said Williams, who with his wife runs between 40 and 45 races each year. "I know that if I can’t run I’m not very happy. My goal is to come out and run at least four times a week and I know that once I do that I’m going to have a good day."

Williams and director/producer Heidi Rataj join Midday Edition Monday to discuss the documentary series.

Re'flect, Successful Aging Defined

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