NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The secret to living to 100 might be cutting your own lawn.
Barbara Wadsworth says she stays busy by doing yard work, washing clothes and, yes, mowing her own lawn.
As far as she can figure, keeping active had helped the Piscataway resident live a long and happy life.
"All I can really say is keep moving because once you start sitting and watching television or looking at your cellphone, you lose the muscle you earned," Wadsworth said.
There were hugs, warm smiles and gifts as Wadsworth's 100th birthday was celebrated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where she still serves one day a week as a volunteer worker in the gift shop.
The hospital threw her a big party complete with cupcakes and a cake adorned with flowers. Big band music played as dozens of people hugged her and posed for photos with her.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon came when Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the Rutgers women's basketball team arrived to honor Wadsworth, a longtime season-ticket holder.
"I can't believe it," Wadsworth said, as she turned around to find the team there to greet her.
The Scarlet Knights brought her a jersey with the uniform No. 100 and Wadsworth quickly slipped it on over her blouse.
"There," she said with the jersey hanging close to her knees. "How's that?"
The people who know Wadsworth admire her not just for her longevity and energy, but for her sunny personality.
"She's sweet, kind, giving beyond measure," Terri Allen, the manager of the hospital's gift shop. "She's just the grandmother you always wanted. She's such an inspiration. When she comes in - winter, snow, rain, it doesn't matter - this woman is here."
Wadsworth began volunteering at RWJUH 19 years ago after a successful career as a Physical Education Professor and Instructor at both Syracuse University and Rutgers University’s Douglass College (now Douglass Residential College) and a professional role at the Boy Scouts of America. In between these roles, she took time to care for her mother, aunt and husband as they fought and later passed away from cancer. The experience had an impact on Wadsworth, who became involved in supporting causes to fight the disease.
“I became involved with many walks or events to support the fight against cancer – I was always the one who couldn’t say no,” she recalls.
She became interested at volunteering at RWJUH when a neighbor, who already volunteered at the hospital, needed help.
“Whenever she needed someone to fill in or help her out, she called me,” Wadsworth explains.
After retiring, Wadsworth decided to volunteer herself. She currently volunteers every Wednesday in the hospital’s gift shop and stays on call to fill in on other days as needed.
She still drives to and from the hospital and has no plans to stop volunteering anytime soon.
"I do lawn work, laundry, keep the house going," Wadsworth said. " I cook a little bit. I still drive. I mow my own lawn, thanks to a ride-on mower I have to confess."