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Vroom! Vroom! Donor gives 105-year-old volunteer a new car

Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:11 AM ET

Video: Edythe Kirchmaier has been driving for 86 years and says she’s never received a ticket or been in an accident. She also says she’s the oldest member of Facebook, and she has no intention of slowing down. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

Edythe Kirchmaier is used to helping others in need. Since the 1970s, she has volunteered with her favorite charity, Direct Relief, writing thank you notes to supporters of the medical aid organization. And when she turned 105, Kirchmaier used the momentous occasion to raise awareness of Direct Relief on her Facebook page.

Now, an anonymous donor has given the Santa Barbara, Calif., resident an incredible gift: a new Honda to replace her aging 1997 minivan. That’s right — at 105 years old, Kirchmaier is still behind the wheel.

Even more impressive is the fact that, according to Kirchmaier, she’s never received a ticket or been in an accident. Appearing earlier this year on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Kirchmaier said she'd just passed her driver's license test and was apparently the oldest driver in California. She started out in a Model-T car 86 years ago.

At 102, she changes oil, spark plugs on her 82-year-old car

Kirchmaier’s old minivan had seen better days. "I hung onto it as long as I could,” she told TODAY. She is grateful for the new car, which has a designated spot in the Direct Relief International parking lot. "It's like a second home,” she said of the non-profit. “Everyone is so great here."

It’s likely that those at the organization feels the same way about Kirchmaier. She took it upon herself to drum up awareness of the charity's cause by asking for 150,000 “likes” of its Facebook page as a birthday wish. 

Direct Relief now has 124,000 likes, and Kirchmaier has more than 36,000 followers, a remarkable feat for one of the oldest members of the social media network. Many of those who post on her page call her an “inspiration.”

But for Kirchmaier, all the attention has been surprising. 

"It's overwhelming," she said. "I never thought I'd make that much of an impression on people."

Image: Edith McAllister in swimming pool
A geriatric specialist is using photography to challenge stereotypes and show people thriving as they journey into old age.


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