KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Viola Coleman has fond memories of riding on a motorcycle with her father. She always sat on the side whenever they hit the road.
“I was 14 or 15,” Coleman said during an interview. “[We] went to the ballgame. He bought me popcorn [and] crackerjacks."
It was also during that time that she got into a crash, she said, and never rode again. Until Friday afternoon when the staff at Hallmark Living arranged for her to take a motorcycle ride at 107 years old.
“Angel,” she said to her friend and former caretaker Angel Haas. “I’m so happy.”
Coleman smiled and waved to the crowd as she was strapped into the side seat of a motorcycle. She was driven around the parking lot twice before riding on the streets in Kalamazoo.
“Hell no,” she replied when asked if she was scared. “I’m just, just happy.”
She rode out on Michigan Avenue for a few minutes before heading back to the home. The crowd clapped as she rolled to a stop in the parking lot. Many of them lined up to take pictures with her afterwards.
“We are just tickled that we were able to give her this day,” said Carrie Freeman, admission director at Hallmark Living. “It’s something she’s wanted ever since she was a little kid. So at 107 I think she’s earned the right to ride on a motorcycle.”
Coleman's friend Haas cheered her on throughout the event. She worked with her for four and a half years before leaving in August 2017. Since then she’s maintained a close friendship with her.
“She’s a very smart, sassy young lady you know,” said Haas. “What I learned from her is that live every day to the fullest, you know, appreciate what you have everyday.”
Haas said it's a message Coleman gives to everyone. When she’s not cracking a joke, she's reminding people to “be happy.”
“I’m happy,” Coleman said. “I stay happy. I wake up in the morning happy.”