Nothing stops 80-year-old from taking her birthday bridge walk

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/7/2020, 6 p.m.
When her 80th birthday arrived, Corrine V. “Coco” Mc- Claine was bound and determined not to let the coronavirus stop …
Corrine V. “Coco” McClaine starts on her birthday walk April 29 with her son, Scott B. McClaine, and her daughter, Dr. Arvid A. McClaine. Location: The Lee Bridge. The Virginia War Memorial is in the background. Photo by Regina H. Boone

When her 80th birthday arrived, Corrine V. “Coco” Mc- Claine was bound and determined not to let the coronavirus stop her from capping the celebration with her traditional practice — a walk across the Lee Bridge in Downtown.

Amid all the uncertainty, she donned a pink top with the word “HAPPY” printed on the front and made sure she kept up the tradition last week on her birthday, Wednesday, April 29.

Armed with her cane, Mrs. McClaine was joined by her daughter, author and motivational speaker Dr. Arvid A. McClaine, and her son, Realtor Scott B. McClaine, as she started her walk on the north side of the bridge. She stopped periodically to enjoy the scenery along the James River below.

It took her nearly 21⁄2 hours to complete the 3⁄4-mile trek, but she never stopped moving forward.

“When I was younger, I could do it in 30 minutes,” said Mrs. McClaine, a retired retail and restaurant worker.

But a stroke six years ago that crippled her right leg and arm, and a hip replacement two years ago, have slowed her down.

“But I wouldn’t have missed doing it for the world,” Mrs. McClaine said. “I look forward to it.”

She said people driving by who know that she walks each birthday honked their car horns to salute her. She said she paused sometimes to do a little dance when they did.

She also celebrated the completion with a dance when she reached the south side of the suspension bridge that measures 3,760 feet in length.

“I’m always thrilled at her motivation,” said her daughter. “Usually, we start training for the walk during the winter. But this year, we didn’t start until April. Still, she was able to do it.”

Now a Highland Park resident, Mrs. McClaine cannot remember what motivated her to incorporate the bridge walk into her birthday celebration each year.

“After I turned 65, I wanted to do something different,” she said. Walking the bridge seemed appropriate given it was a major landmark for the South Side neighborhood where she used to live.

Dr. McClaine said her mother has taken the yearly walk for at least the past 12 years.

“I just consider myself blessed to have such an inspiration,” Dr. McClaine said.