‘I’m strengthening what’s here’: WWII veteran celebrates his 98th birthday at the gym

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GLADSTONE, Ore. — Fred Lawrence has been hitting the gym three days a week for years, so his 98th birthday was no exception.

The World War II veteran has been going to the 24 Hour Fitness club in Gladstone, Oregon, near Portland, for five or six years and is the oldest member at the gym.

The club was decorated with signs and balloons when he arrived Wednesday morning and the staff had made vanilla bean cupcakes (his favorite), 24 Hour Fitness spokeswoman Karen Bakula said. Employees presented him with an oversized birthday card signed by everyone at the gym.

They also gave him a new club T-shirt that he put on right away.

After the party, he went on to do his regular 90-minute workout, Bakula said.

“Makes me feel good,” Lawrence told CNN affiliate KATU. “Makes me feel like I’m strengthening what’s here.”

Lawrence is a retired Marine and served in the Pacific during World War II. He went on to become a pastor.

“I’m so grateful to be alive, in this day, that I was permitted to live. The good Lord is good. I just feel like he was with me. I’m so grateful,” Lawrence said.

Jeramy Ybarra has been working out with Lawrence for a few years and says he’s a real inspiration.

“Fred to me is kind of like an adopted grandpa. Every time I see him, he gives me a big hug and tells me how happy he is to see me,” Ybarra told KATU. “And I think one of the other things I learn from Fred is the amount of gratitude he has for life.”

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