After such a miserable 2020, there are signs that things are going to be better in 2021 and beyond.  This story out of Lacey, New Jersey gives me a reason to be optimistic, majorly.  Let's dive into something that will astound you.

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1943 - - Veronica and Nicholas on their wedding day. Credit: Zoe Tompkins

1921 was a difficult year for the United States.  The country had recently battled in World War 1 and was in the midst of an economic depression.  On the positive side, the New York Yankees made their 1st World Series appearance (unfortunately they lost) and a few key Americans were born.  Notably, future acting icon Charles Bronson, future first lady Nancy Reagan, future astronaut John Glenn, and future New Jersey centenarian Veronica Kurcik came into the world...and would go on to do great things.

You probably have two questions.  1) Who is Veronica Kurcik?  and 2) What's a centenarian?  I've got plenty to share about Veronica, but lets start with that centenarian word.  That is someone that lives to be at least 100 years young!  Veronica achieved that on Friday.  To say the odds were stacked against her would be an understatement.  The likelihood of reaching 100 for someone born in 1921 was 1.4%, as of 2011.  That means there was a 98.6% chance Veronica wouldn't do it.  To make matters worse, COVID-19 and the pandemic drove life expectancy down over the past year.  So, how did Veronica do it?  Well, you need to know a little bit about this incredible woman.

Credit: Zoe Tompkins

I first heard about Veronica in a post on a community Facebook group.  She was the recipient of a "drive-by celebration", where friends and family honored her by pulling up to wave, say hello, and share a smile and a moment.  I asked if anyone knew Veronica, so I could learn more, and her granddaughter Zoe Tompkins reached out with great insight.

Veronica with family at Zoe's Wedding. Credit: Zoe Tompkins

Zoe tells us that Veronica's "secret to 100 years is hard work, patience, and a big family."  She often boasts that "her greatest achievement is her family."  That started in 1943 when she married Nicholas Fiore.  The two married, had children, and grandchildren and remained married for 69 years until Nicholas passed in 2012.

2 parts of Veronica's winning recipe for a long life may be her energy and her propensity to take a gamble.  Zoe says Veronica loves Atlantic City and was "a monster on the slots."  Her family has given her a nickname, "the energizer bunny."  Zoe adds "she never stops moving, even at the age of 100!."  Besides always being up and on the go, she's lived in multiple parts of our great Garden State.  She was born in New Brunswick, lived in Waretown for over 50 years, and recently moved to Lacey to live with her family.  Veronica loves the beach and you may just see her strolling on the boardwalk this summer!

Happy 100th Veronica!  Cheers to 100 more!

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