Retired Peaslee Elementary School teacher Eileen Tupper celebrated her 80th birthday in May by going skydiving in Pepperell.
She currently swims three days each week, and does floor exercises twice a week, at the Westboro Tennis and Swim Club.
"Skydiving is a side effect of my exercise," Tupper said Tuesday.
"Because without the exercise, I wouldn't have had the confidence to do something I wanted to do all my life."
Thursday, a lunch at the club will honor Tupper being chosen as a finalist for a national award in the Silver Sneakers program, "a fitness program for seniors provided by Fallon Community Health Plan and administered by Healthways. Healthways contracts with local fitness clubs to provide discounted service for their clients," such as Westboro Tennis and Swim, club owner Justin Lundberg said.
Fallon Community Health Plan and Healthways are partnering on the lunch, he said. The club's Silver Sneakers coordinator, Donna Tortorella, nominated Tupper, he said.
Tupper said she joined Silver Sneakers because "three years ago, I lost the love of my life and I had to do something."
She and her husband of 55 years, Arthur -- "Tup" -- "were very active. We traveled all over the world. We did all kinds of crazy things," she said.
"Without him, I knew I had to do something. I couldn't just go walking around the block. Because that's dangerous, to walk around the block alone."
Tupper said she received a Silver Sneaker brochure in the mail, and the program interested her.
So, her daughter, Nancy McKinley, showed her around the Westboro Tennis and Swim Club, which is a Silver Sneaker provider. plays tennis at the club.
Tupper said she signed up for the Silver Sneaker program around the time of Hurricane Irene.
"I just love it. I am here most of the time five days a week: three days of swimming and two days of floor exercise," the Marlborough resident said.
Tupper said she didn't try skydiving earlier in her life out of respect for her husband.
"I did not want to subject him to the fear and the worry," she said.
However, "I really wanted to do something to celebrate 80," Tupper said.
"My instructor said to me, 'You are my first octogenarian,'" she said.
"It is truly one of the most exciting things I've done."
Getting in proper shape helped, she said.
"They tell you you've got to be able to arch your back and bend your knees," Tupper said.
"As the passenger, your knees have to be bent so that he can manipulate the free fall. Your feet can't be in his way."