“Her secret is a combination of good genes and a commitment to daily exercise,” her daughter, Ruth Goldman, told USA TODAY. “She usually walks about 3 miles a day.”
Fran focuses on eating healthy and staying mentally and physically fit, and she has “always been interested in learning new things,” her daughter said. She’s currently enrolled in a Zoom class on Chinese history and, before the coronavirus pandemic, she attended an array of courses in person.
“She’s healthier than me and my three siblings combined!” said Ruth, 55, the youngest of Fran’s children who lives in Buffalo, New York.
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Ruth said her mother has been overwhelmed with messages and calls this week from Americans nationwide inspired by her story of determination. Ruth answered questions from USA TODAY on behalf of her mother.
She said her motherhad been trying for about a month to secure a vaccine appointment.
Fran checked online for openings multiple times a day. She tried various phone numbers. She even walked into a pharmacy to see if they had a waitlist.
Last Friday, she finally clicked on the Seattle Children’s Hospital website and was able to schedule an appointment for Sunday morning, Ruth said.
“It was a lot of work. She was lucky, though, because she is comfortable navigating websites,” Ruth said. “Many other people her age and younger are not tech savvy or do not have internet or a device they can use to access the website.”
Seattle received about a foot of snow Friday and Saturday – among its snowiest weekends on record – turning roadways icy and treacherous. As the weather got worse, Fran kept checking the hospital website to see if they were rescheduling appointments; many other vaccination sites had closed due to the storm.
“Because it had taken her so long to schedule the vaccine, she decided she couldn’t risk missing the appointment for bad weather,” Ruth said. “She knew she couldn’t drive and cars couldn’t make it up the incredibly steep driveway, so she started to think about walking.”
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On Saturday, Fran did a practice walk to see how long it would take her on foot, covering a portion of the journey, Ruth said. Then she got up early Sunday, bundled in layers, grabbed her walking sticks and set out.
“It took her about an hour each way. There was a good track on the trail already and she just proceeded carefully,” Ruth said.
Fran arrived to her appointment about five minutes late, received her shot and waited the 15 minutes of observation before making the return journey.
For Fran, the vaccine represents hope.
“She wants to be able to hug her great-grandchildren and have some semblance of a normal life,” Ruth said. “She knows it won’t be the same as pre-pandemic and plans to continue to wear a mask and follow safety guidelines, but the risk of getting severe COVID will be much lower.”
More than 12% of people in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine shot, and about 4.7% of people have received both doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the current rate of vaccination, trees would be losing their leaves this fall by the time most American adults could be vaccinated, and vaccine delivery would need to double to reach most this summer, according to a USA TODAY panel of experts.
Follow breaking news reporter Grace Hauck on Twitter @grace_hauck.