WWII veteran celebrates centennial birthday by running 100 cumulative miles with his family

A World War II veteran, who loves hitting the pavement, celebrated his 100th birthday by running 100 cumulative miles with his extended family.

Orville Rogers, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot instructor during the war, reached the milestone birthday Tuesday. Three days before, his family celebrated him by running 100 miles collectively around White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas.

Some of his family members ran 8 miles, others just 2, Rogers told ABC News. "And then everybody in the family, 31 of us, ran the last mile together back to my former home," he added.

Even at his age, Rogers said, he continues to run because "it makes me feel good."

"I'm convinced -- in my own personal experience -- that it's good for me," Rogers added. "Exercise is good for you to have good health and a long life. That's a combination I can't turn down."

Rogers, a widower, has four children, three of whom are still alive, 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

"We’re a very close family," he boasted. "We take family vacations every summer for 44 years now and we enjoy getting together anywhere. It was a joy for everybody together."

His son Bill Rogers agreed. Along with running around the lake, the younger Rogers told ABC News, the family planned "a big early party for him" that included signs, matching T-shirts and a birthday cake.

Rogers, 68, said it's inspiring that his father still loves running in his senior years, especially because he didn't begin his favorite hobby until he was 50. That was after the veteran was diagnosed with a heart problem and had to undergo six bypass surgeries.

"He’s the most dedicated, disciplined fitness person that I’ve ever met," his son said. "He believes that God has blessed his life because he is a faithful follower, and there’s no one in the family that’s going to dispute that."

Orville Rogers, who wrote a book about his life called "The Running Man: Flying High for the Glory of God," even competes in about two running meets per year. He started competing in track meets when he turned 90, proving it's never too late.

Bill Rogers said it's just a shame his mother, Esther Beth, who died in March 2008, never saw her husband compete in one meet. His first competition was in Boston weeks after her death, her son said.

"I know she would be very proud of dad,” Bill Rogers said. “She’s always been.”

© 2017 ABC News


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