Feature

Racing great-great-grandmother, Climbing Mount Everest (again)

Edith Pittenger, a 96-year-old great-great-grandmother, loves the Indianapolis 500 so much that she’s been going since 1965.

Edith Pittenger, a 96-year-old great-great-grandmother, loves the Indianapolis 500 so much that she’s been going since 1965. So last Christmas, her family gave her a special present: a gift certificate for the “Indy Racing Experience,” which entitles her to personally partake in the thrill of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Last week, Pittenger donned a helmet and racing suit and climbed into the passenger seat of a modified 650-horsepower Dallara. With her driver in control, she zoomed around the track twice at 180 mph, waving to cheering spectators. “Oh, that was fun!” she said. “I don’t know how I can top this.”

A 48-year-old Nepalese Sherpa has ascended to the top of Mount Everest for the 18th time, breaking his own world record for the number of times anyone has reached the world’s highest point. Appa Sherpa first reached the apex of the 29,000-foot peak in 1990; he has repeated the feat every year since then, except in 1996 and 2001, though he did so twice in 1992 and 1997. The veteran mountain guide had previously announced he would retire in 2002, but he changed his mind the next year.

By all appearances, Val Thomas, 59, of Charleston, W.Va., died last week after suffering two heart attacks. Indeed, at one point she had no brain waves, heart action, or pulse; rigor mortis began to set in. Gathered at her hospital bed, her family directed doctors to disconnect her from life-support. She was connected only to a ventilator as they discussed what to do with her organs. Suddenly, Thomas woke up and started talking. She has since been examined at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and although doctors are baffled by her revival, they say she’s fine. “I know God has something in store for me, another purpose,” she said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure he’ll tell me.”

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