Human Interest

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Andrew Milligan/AP
Susan Boyle poses singing with a hairbrush at her home in Blackburn, Scotland.

Susan Boyle Shows Age Is No Obstacle to Realizing Lifelong Dreams

April 16, 2009 05:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Susan Boyle surprised the world with her grand debut at age 47. But as a 76-year-old man who scaled Mt. Everest and a 95-year-old college graduate showed, you can achieve lifelong dreams far into adulthood.

Susan Boyle Makes Her Grand Debut at Age 47

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On the Saturday, April 11, episode of "Britain's Got Talent," a 47-year-old woman stunned the judges and audience. Walking timidly on stage in a neutral colored dress and little makeup, Susan Boyle was the antithesis of the young, often glossily made-over contestants that usually win such shows.

When she belted out "I Dreamed A Dream" from "Les Miserables," all stereotypes of what a promising singer should look like went out the window.  And now not only was Boyle invited to join the competition, but she has become a global star, taking the Internet by storm and appearing on national news programs in the United States.

Perhaps no fact about Boyle's life contributed more to the low expectations than her age. As judge Simon Cowell skeptically rolled through his interrogation of Boyle, his voice rose as he asked "And how old are you, Susan?" When she replied "47," Cowell and the other judges rolled their eyes, and, in reference to her dream of becoming a professional singer, Cowell pointedly asked, "why hasn't it worked out before?"

Cowell showed the bias in all of us to believe that someone who has not achieved something by the age of 47, never will. But a long list of older achievers prove us all wrong, and show it is never too late to become what you could have been.

Background: Amazing achievements at record-breaking ages

On March 25, a 106-year-old woman, Dulcibella King-Hall, became the oldest person to complete a lap at the Brands Hatch raceway. Her laps as a passenger were part of the early celebration of her 107th birthday. King-Hall worked as a test driver for the British Army in World War II, and said to Sky News of her ride, "It could have been faster."

Nola Ochs made history and headlines in 2007 when she became, at age 95, the world's oldest college graduate. Ochs graduated from Fort Hays State University in Kansas with a degree in history. Her 21-year-old grandaughter graduated in the same class.

At age 76, Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Before he set the record in May 2008, the oldest person to climb the mountain was Katsusuke Yanagisawa, who was 71 years old when he made the climb.

In February of this year, Jose Castellanos became the oldest person to become a United States citizen. Castellanos, a 100-year-old Cuban national, will turn 101 in March. 

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Related Topic: Celebrities, everyday people reach for dreams late in life

In 2008, Jack Moelmann, a 67-year-old retired Air Force colonel, spent his entire life savings, a total of $120,000, to perform at Radio City Music Hall on the celebrated Wurlitzer organ. Moelmann considered inviting the Rockettes to perform with him, but could not afford the extra $90,000.

Molemann told CBS News that, after thinking about wanting to play at Radio City, "I looked in the mirror and said, 'Jack, you have a dream, go for it!'" Molemann sold tickets for $50 a piece, and played in front of a crowd of about 1,000 people. Even though he didn't make his money back, he did get something else out of the experience: an offer to play the largest theatre organ in the world at a department store in Philadelphia.

In March 2008, comedian Billy Crystal fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing with the New York Yankees. Crystal suited up for a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and fouled off a pitch before striking out in one at bat. In 2000, country singer Garth Brooks joined the New York Mets for spring training. One year earlier, Brooks played with the San Diego Padres and racked up a .045 batting average.
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