Niles resident celebrates milestone birthday

NILES — Madesta Robinson, of Niles, celebrated a milestone birthday on Friday.

Robinson opened the door on her front porch to find that her friends were attempting to assemble to surprise her from the sidewalk. She smiled from ear to ear as she recognized the faces of friends, recognizing them even with their masks on. She stepped outside, excited to see friends that she has not practiced fitness moves with in months now.

“These are some of my exercise group,” Robinson said, with a big smile. She laughed and waved to friends, neighbors and classmates from her front porch as they approached to greet her and catch up from a few feet away.

Robinson, a nearly life-long resident of Niles, celebrated her 100th birthday Friday. To celebrate, 14 of her neighbors and friends from YMCA fitness classes gathered shortly before 11:30 a.m. to sign a card and sing “happy birthday” from the sidewalk on Oak Street to their friend on her porch. The friends gathered closer together to sing to Robinson and spaced back out afterwards on the sidewalk.

While Robinson had no tips on her longevity, her social nature and dedication to fitness with her friends may have something to do with it.

Before the COVID-19 mandates that shut down gyms, Robinson was a regular student for many of the fitness classes geared towards seniors at the YMCA.

“We were going to have cake at the Y, and then all of this happened,” Brenda Myers said. Myers has known Robinson for over 25 years.

Karen Loughin, a friend from her fitness classes, said Robinson generally shows up at least three times a week to the seniors’ fitness classes.

“We do mainly senior classes,” Loughin said. She cited aerobics, weight lifting and step classes all focused on senior citizens.

At 100 years old, Loughin said that Robinson still works hard to keep up in the classes.

“She is there as often as she can be,” Loughin said. “We exercise together every week.”

Another one of her friends, Marina Watkins, has known Robinson for just two years. However, she length of time they have known each other does not take away from their connection and the spark she brings to the class.

“Madesta is such a joy and inspiration to our class,” Watkins said.

The friends and neighbors seemed to be as delighted to see Robinson, as Robinson was to see them.

Linet Riley, another friend and classmate, wished Robinson a happy birthday. She said that she was working on matching her longevity.

“I am playing catch up,” Riley said.

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