BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio — Let's face it: Getting older can be a challenging thing. But, it doesn't have to be!
Seventy-nine-year-old Sanford Potiker is making it look easy. He dances. He raps. And he spreads joy … for free!
He's also a veteran, a songwriter, and he's got the coolest moves in town.
Born in Cleveland, Sanford grew up on East 28th Street and Cedar Avenue. After graduating school, he joined the military.
“I was active for two years and four years reserve. Our ship went to Europe. Italy, France, Malta, Germany," Potiker said.
After he got out, he began to tap into that creative brain -- one that found comfort in music and lyrics.
“When I was finished with my service, basically I was trying to find what I wanted to do. So, when I was like, 30 years old, I was like an aspiring songwriter because I was writing poems and lyrics. And so I decided to just keep doing that because I love to do it, it’s sort of a passion of me," Potiker said.
“So, it was sort of like company when there was no one around. I could write either the loneliness, happiness or whatever. And I wrote some poems about how I was in the service.
Then, he let music lead him right into a recording studio.
“I’d written a song called 'The Vibration.' It’s a dance. I didn’t have the music, I just had the lyrics, but he brought in an arranger and he brought in four musicians when we went to the studio, Cleveland Recording, and we recorded 'The Vibration.' That was 1969," Potiker recalled.
He never saw money from the song, he says, and began "working for the man."
After losing his wife in 2010, Sanford once again turned to music.
“Well when my wife died, she died in 2010, so I didn’t do much of anything for two years. I still continued with my writing and then with my dancing. I think my dancing is sort of an outlet.” he said.
He started showing up to spots all around Northeast Ohio, blowing onlookers -- and millennials -- away with his agility and rhyming skills.
We had to see for ourselves, so we caught up with him at Gears and Cheers in Bedford Heights. Sanford was there for a senior line dance. He tore up the floor with steps, turns and hat tricks for days.
His grooves and beats, have left medical professionals with a mile-wide smile.
We showed Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Michael Roizen, the video of Sanford rapping and dancing to the floor. He was spellbound.
“Look at all the people there moving…this is kind of incredible how he’s doing this!" Roizen said. “This is so great.”
Dr. Roizen says, what Sanford is doing, is literally turning back the clock just by getting moving, and it's never too late.
“He’s getting some cardiovascular activity, he’s getting regular activity. He’s lifting his body weight, so he’s getting some resistance, and he’s jumping around a little so he’s getting some jumps," Roizen said.
In other words, the Fountain of Youth may not be that unrealistic. All people have to do, is follow four major components of positive aging:
- Physical activity
- Stress management
- Eating healthy
- Good relationships with people
Seems simple enough, but check out what the results can be:
“A woman at age 75 can get about 31 years younger, a man about 28 years younger," Roizen said. “The human body -- whoever engineered it --engineered it so we get a do-over.”
All rhyming aside, here's what you need to know about this elder in the rap game: He's not doing it for money; he just wants to spread joy.
“I want to send a message and it was for me of living life. People come up to me and they say, 'you inspire me, I want to be just like you,'” Potiker said. “If I could give a little sparkle ... a little joy to people. There’s people hurting out there.”
Sanford has no booking agent, but he's all for open invitations:
"Tell him where my home is, where my address is, and we can book him, right here!" Roizen exclaimed.
To learn more about Sanford Potiker, click HERE.