CARROLLTON — Willie Washington did not have his sneakers on when News 8 caught up with him at 24 Hour Fitness in Carrollton. But even so, after assuring us he could handle any machine inside the gym, he was ready to hop on the treadmill.
"You want me to go faster?" he asked.
There isn't much that slows Washington down. He's been coming to the same gym for 10 years, exercising with SilverSneakers, a fitness group for seniors offered through Medicare health plans.
"As long as you do something and move, your body appreciates that," he said.
Washington's dedication impressed instructor Delia Crossley so much that she nominated him for the national SilverSneakers Inspiration Award.
"He emotionally is just so upbeat and helps everybody," Crossley said. "He's incredible!"
Washington received more than 11,000 votes on Facebook to win the award.
"I just feel so good," he said, beaming on the treadmill.
When Washington and his wife first came to Texas, things were not so good. They left their hometown of New Orleans to escape Hurricane Katrina.
Joining Silver Sneakers helped him cope with leaving family, friends, and his active routine behind in Louisiana. He celebrated his award with family visiting in New Orleans style. Jazz music played during his award reception.
Granddaughter Sabrina Hawkins came in with other relatives from the Crescent City. "I'm really glad that he is still as lively as his personality is," she said.
A hurricane didn't slow him down, and not even cancer kept Willie Washington from his twice-a-week workouts. He's in remission now, and ready to celebrate 56 years of marriage in November.
"As long as you have a will to do anything, you can do it!" he exclaimed.
Even at 82, Washington believes he can keep with anyone. The question is: Can you keep up with him?