OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- An Overland Park man figured he'd give up exercise when he reached a certain significant birthday. That birthday is Saturday, and Jack Sokolov has had a change of heart.
Sokolov started coming to cardiac rehabilitation at Saint Luke's South Hospital after having heart bypass surgery. Fifteen years later, he still comes once a week. He's still peddling.
"It seems like after a work-out, I feel better. It wakes me up in the morning and sustains me during the day," he said.
Yet last month, Sokolov was thinking about calling it quits.
"And I said, 'why would you do that?' And he said, 'because I'm going to be 100 years old.' And I said, 'you don't need to stop coming because you're a hundred years old,'" said Lynn Hegvic, a nurse in cardiac rehab.
The truth was that the soon-to-be centenarian was very fatigued. A trip to the emergency room revealed the cause. His heart rate was going down.
"Within an hour or two, they had me on my way to the Plaza to put a pacemaker in, and that was the answer. Now I'm not quitting. I'm gonna go for the second hundred," said Sokolov.
He turns 100 on Saturday. Fellow rehab participants sang "Happy Birthday" to him on Wednesday.
Sokolov credits his late wife of 73 years and his family for much of his longevity. There's also his family at rehab, and the strength, balance and endurance he's gained since he started exercising there.
"It's one thing to be 100 years old. It's another thing to be 100 years old and be able to live life as he does," said Hegvic.
Sokolov took the advice of caregivers to heart when he started rehab 15 years ago.
"Well, they told me it was good for my health, and I took their word," he said, laughing.
That's why a birthday boy can and will keep going. There's no finish line in sight.