Countdown to 100: Highlands Ranch exercise class and a special party mark 99th birthday

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At 99, Yvette Gunther is not slowing down. Instead, she is driving herself to a daily senior fitness class, enjoying life and planning for a 100th birthday celebration at Highlands Ranch Mansion next year.

Gunther celebrated her 99th birthday at the Northridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch last week, joking about the good times, reminiscing about the past, and enjoying the attention from about 30 friends.

Besides traditional food and desserts, Gunther was also treated to her first Jell-O shot during the celebration.

In describing their friend, many agreed that the one word that properly describes Gunther is “inspirational.”

Linda Wilson said she has known Gunther for several years, commenting on how she has missed more fitness classes than her 99-year-old friend.

“She's active, energetic and always inspirational,” Wilson said. “I mean, who doesn't want to get up every day and head to a fitness class at 99? Right?”

Senior fitness instructor Allyson Holgard said it has been an honor working with Gunther over the years.

“She inspires others by just continuing to show up,” Holgard said. “Her smile, her energy and her ability to never give up inspires everyone. Not even COVID could slow this woman down.”

Kathy Martz, friends with Gunther for more than two decades, said her friend has been a part of boards and organizations to help keep Highlands Ranch on track. Martz said Gunther has never shied away from giving back to the community.

“She is an absolute pistol,” Martz said. “She is a true example of what you can do at any age.”

Over the years, Martz said her friendship with Gunther is not just about a senior fitness class or serving on various boards. Martz said it is about being there for each other, noting that she has been there for Gunther in losing two husbands.

As friends gushed over how inspirational Gunther is, the 99-year-old said it all goes back to her childhood when her parents placed her in a boarding school. When the school let students outside to play, Gunther said she took full advantage of any athletic programs she could do, taking in as much sunlight as she could.

Gunther said she would never wish boarding school on anyone and has always vowed to be social, friendly and active in her life.

“I do not like sitting around,” she said. “Even after I lost my husbands, I get out and see my friends, walk my dog and get into all kinds of spoils. It is my friends who have kept me going.”

Gunther said she continues to stay active with exercise class and various community activities because she hates being alone, and her friendships are too important to stay inside.

Looking forward to 100, Gunther said she is going to rent Highlands Ranch Mansion. She said she plans to invite everyone she knows to celebrate the milestone.

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