It was during a water-gun fight at her senior living facility over the summer that Ruby Holt told bystanders she had always wanted to see the ocean, which she had never visited in her century on this planet. With the encouragement of employees at the Tennessee facility where she resides, Holt, who will turn 101 on Dec. 13, entered and won the "Wish of a Lifetime" contest held by her center's parent company. Her prize: a three-night stay in a beachfront room along the Gulf of Mexico in Orange Beach, Ala., AL.com reports. Holt made the six-hour trip there earlier this week to start realizing her dream: She has eaten seafood on the shore, watched dolphins and pelicans frolic in the water, explored the beach in a wheelchair equipped with heavy-duty sand wheels, and dipped her feet in the Gulf.
The mayor of Orange Beach even came by to present her with a special plaque and gift bag. Though Holt says she enjoys traveling, she spent most of her working life picking cotton in rural Tennessee, as per USA Today, and she had four kids and a husband who worked a lot, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. That didn't leave her much time to go anywhere far from home. "There was always something to do," she tells the Herald, explaining why, for the first 100 years of her life, the beach was something she saw only in pictures. One of the workers who helped bring her dream to fruition tells the Herald, "Being 100 years old and never seeing the ocean—to me, that shouldn't happen. The ocean is … a God gift. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing." (The final wish of a 77-year-old woman in England involved a horse.)