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Menlo Park: A different birthday tradition

Barbershop owner, musician Jym Marks celebrates birthdays with a transbay trek

Some people celebrate their birthdays with a cake and a party. Jym Marks, Menlo Park business owner, jazz musician and, in recent years, advocate for healthy aging, has a different tradition.

For each of his last eight birthdays, he has walked about 12 miles from his home in Fremont across the Dumbarton Bridge to his business, Markstyle barbershop, located at 828 Willow Road in Menlo Park, near the VA campus.

This year, for his 82nd birthday, he repeated the tradition with family and friends.

When he finished the trek, he said, "I felt so good, I started to walk back."

Each year, he gathers a larger following, he said. The walk draws friends for whom fitness and an active lifestyle are important, including members from two San Jose-based groups: the Fire and Ice Ski Club, for athletes of color, and the "Betty Boobs," whose members walk and raises funds to combat breast cancer.

While crossing the Dumbarton Bridge and walking along Willow Road, Mr. Marks said, drivers were friendly and waved and tooted their horns in support.

Several of his grandchildren made a surprise showing at the finish line, he said. The group concluded its journey with dessert from Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, he said.

"This is not all about me. It's really about my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren," he said. "I'm setting the tone for all of them to walk for health, and I'm also trying to set a tone for aging."

He said he refuses to use the word "old" to describe people. "I use the word aging, no matter what your age is," he said. "'Old' should be for things, not people."

When asked if he plans to make the transbay journey next year, he said, "I'm trying to do it every year as long as I'm young enough."

He extended an open invitation to others to join his walk next year. The event date may vary but will be around Dec. 20, his actual birthday. Call him at (650) 224-4624 to coordinate.

Free jazz show

Jym Marks is scheduled to perform with the Jym Marks Quintet from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 7, at the council chambers in the Menlo Park Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. The concert is free and refreshments will be served, courtesy of the Friends of the Menlo Park Library.

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