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Sanford woman goes water skiing for her 80th birthday

Not even a pandemic can stop Betsy James from having some fun this weekend.

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Maggie Brown
, WRAL multiplatform producer
SANFORD, N.C. — Not even a pandemic can stop Betsy James from having some fun this weekend.

Even though she is 80-years-old, she still goes to the gym and plays tennis almost every week.

Her daughter, Mary Tatum, said she was "not surprised" when her mother told her what she wanted to do for her birthday -- go water skiing.

Tatum's mother hadn't skiied since she was 60-years-old, and that was 20 years ago.

James started training for her birthday adventure -- she started working out, doing push ups and building up her body strength.

Then, when the big day came around, James got worried.

"There was a part of her that didn't know if she could do it," Tatum said.

But, Tatum was committed to helping her mother accomplish her goal. She bought her a wetsuit as a birthday present, and James "knew she couldn't get out of it."

"Once she makes up her mind, she does it," her daughter said.

After she got on the skis and onto the water at Buffalo Lake, it was "smooth sailing."

At the end of the ski adventure, James had a small wipe out. But Tatum said that didn't put down her spirits.

"She's just been tickled to death," Tatum said.

James is a former educator, who retired in 1996. But her daughter said "retired" for James meant she just stopped getting paid. She is still in active member in her community and a great-grandmother.


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