Best Life

Barbranda Walls is a features editor for AARP Media who spotlights everyday people doing exceptional things. These folks might not make national news, but they deserve a shout-out. She loves pop culture – especially food, fashion, television and R&B music. Family, friends and spirituality play important roles in my life. And traffic.

She Might Be (Healthy) Soul Food’s Biggest Champion

If you’re celebrating National Soul Food Month and Juneteenth this month, you’re probably well acquainted with crispy fried chicken, ham hock-laden collard greens, smothered pork chops and gooey macaroni and cheese. But what about wheat sautéed tilapia salad, grilled salmon cake panini, black-eyed pea dip and roasted green beans? In the eyes of restaurateur Vonda McPherson, that’s soul food, too. The chef and owner of Vonda’s Kitchen in Newark, N.J., is on a mission to make fresh and organic a …

Woman, 91, Makes Marathon History

Her name is Harriette Thompson. But you can call her Wonder Woman. Thompson, 91, of Charlotte, N.C., made history June 1 when she crossed the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. She ran the fastest marathon ever by a woman 90 or older (7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds) and became the second-oldest marathon finisher in U.S. history. >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter Impressive, huh? But Thompson says she wasn’t even in her …

The Beat Goes On Marching Band of Oregon to Play Shanghai Festival

You can say that one merry band does indeed march to the beat of a different drummer. The Beat Goes On marching band of Portland, Ore., has made a quite a name for itself in the mere 2½ years it’s been struttin’ its stuff in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. And now that beat will lead the musicians to China in September. The organizers of the Shanghai Tourism Festival discovered the band online and invited it as the only U.S. …

Working Out to Help His Brain Stay Sharp

T Michael Harty, 59, works out every day. But he doesn’t use elliptical trainers, weight machines or stationary bicycles. His workout regimen: brain exercises. The Shippensburg, Pa., man keeps his mind in fighting form by spending at least a half hour a day memorizing random cards, number sequences and words.  On March 29, he’ll put his skills to the test when he comes up against more than 70 other mental athletes at the USA Memory Championship in New York. Participants …

AIDS Activist Mary Fisher’s Newest Good Deed

Who knew that counting beads could help change the world? Mary Fisher had a notion it would. The AIDS activist and author immediately saw the power of connecting beads to good deeds after meeting a filmmaker who told her about a game he played with his children to track their anonymous acts of kindness. “I was fascinated by this,” says Fisher, 65, from her home in Sedona, Ariz. “The minute he said beads I thought I had to do a …

24 Veterans Get Long-Overdue Medals of Honor

Melvin Morris vividly remembers the day in September 1969 when he became a war hero in the eyes of others. Morris was a young Green Beret staff sergeant in South Vietnam. After his master sergeant was killed in a jungle ambush in the vicinity of Chi Lang, Morris, serving as the commander of a Special Forces strike force, went back into the line of fire three times to recover the body and a map case – and was wounded three …