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Eutawville resident and retired businessman William "Woody" Binnicker is a World Endurance Record-holding skydiver whose adventurous life has also included powerlifting, running and biking. And at age 80, he continues to exercise and enjoy a life filled with blessings.

After joining the U.S. Army at the age of 20, Binnicker developed a passion for extreme sports and physical activity. He and his friend, the late Bobby Frierson, set a world record for parachute jumps in 1973.

With Frierson serving as pilot, Binnicker established the first record for the most parachute jumps in a 24-hour period with 201 jumps.

"I volunteered in the Army, but then I became interested in the 82nd Airborne Division and went through jump school. During the last part of my enlistment, I was privy to see two of the most experienced skydivers at that time," Binnicker said.

"But then I met my future wife and she wasn't interested in a service career," so he got out of the armed services, came home and started skydiving as a sport in 1962, he said.

He and Frierson, who he trained in 1964, ran a Barnwell-based skydiving business, Vikings of Denmark, for several years.

"He and I became partners. We had our own aircraft in Barnwell and we had a parachute center. We trained and flew jumpers and also competed all around the country in parachute meets," Binnicker said.

At the end of his career, the Denmark native had logged more than 3,600 jumps and won many competition meets all over the Southeast.

"I placed eighth in the national meet up in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1965. Orange has a big drop zone. As a matter of fact, it's still thriving today in Orange," Binnicker said.

He said he began delving in weightlifting in preparation for his record parachute jump.

"I got really interested in weightlifting. After about 1974, I had a wife and three children and had to kind of tend to my business. So I got more or less into the powerlifting that way and out of the parachute business," Binnicker said.

"I competed in powerlifting for five or six years and in 1977 went up to Mount Clemons, Michigan, and won the national powerlifting championship. I guess I was in what you would call the light/heavyweight class."

That's when he began having some back trouble, but he continued to work out and got more into biking, running and competing in triathlons, he said.

"That kind of kept me active and on the go. I even made a 600-mile ride down to Miami, Florida, from Denmark one summer."

Binnicker said he also completed a more than 100-mile ride from downtown Spartanburg to the summit at Mt. Mitchell State Park in North Carolina, a vertical ascent of more than 10,000 feet.

"I, of course, began to incorporate swimming. That's what the triathlon is: swimming, biking and riding," said Binnicker, who completed a triathlon during Schuetzenfest in the Bamberg County town of Ehrhardt more than 30 years ago.

Binnicker ran a grocery store in Denmark for several years. He eventually sold the business, and he and his wife, Janice, with whom he will celebrate a 58th wedding anniversary this year, moved to Eutawville in 1995.

"I bought an IGA grocery store that was in existence and worked there until 2007," when he retired after turning 70, he said.

Continuing back problems could have sidelined Binnicker, but they didn't. He was diagnosed with sciatica, a type of pain that radiates from the lower back down to one or both legs, and was experiencing spinal complications. Rather than have surgery, he turned to low-impact fitness exercises.

He focused on incorporating workouts that strengthened his back muscles, including training on his bike and completing workouts on his Bowflex Max Trainer cardio machine. A year and a half later, he is virtually pain-free and has the stamina to keep up with just about anybody, Binnicker said.

"It really alleviated my back problems to the point that I didn't even notice it that much. So it was kind of a blessing for me. Plus, it kept (me) in pretty good shape. I still use it today," he said.

While some seniors may become less active in their retirement years, he is not one to sit around doing nothing -- and fishing doesn't excite him either, Binnicker said.

"I still enjoy working out. Everybody says, 'Do you go fishing?' I say, 'No.' I tried fishing when I was a youngster, and they wouldn't bite for me. All I got was mosquito bites so I don't fish," he said.

He urges other seniors to remain active and watch their diets.

"You got to take all of that into consideration and keep on going. At one time, I had taken shots for my back, but that didn't help a whole lot. I just felt that I needed to do anything I could to try to keep active because I didn't want to just have to go get an operation as the only other option," Binnicker said.

His children -- Raini, 57; Woody Jr., 55 and Becky, 54 -- have all taken after him, leading healthy lifestyles of their own.

"My oldest daughter is a triathlete and my son ... works out and rides his bike all the time. My youngest daughter is a jazzercise instructor. So, they pretty much all got into the ways of fitness, which I was real happy about," Binnicker said.

He said he always had a gym in the back of his house, a playground of sorts for his family. 

"I had one downtown in Denmark. I trained guys to powerlift. My son got into it at that time and the girls did, too," said Binnicker, adding that fitness is largely a state of mind.

He said he genuinely enjoys exercise.

"I can go all day, and so it really benefited me. The thing about it is, I enjoyed it to start with. A lot of people will start working out and they don't enjoy it so they quit. But just like anything else, it's what you make of it," he said.

Binnicker said he has no plans of slowing down and enjoys traveling and visiting his children, along with participating in church activities as a member of Eutawville United Methodist Church.

He said, "I'm thankful every day that I can open my eyes and get out of bed. It's a blessing."

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter @DionneTandD.

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Health Reporter

Dionne Gleaton has been a staff writer with The T&D for 20 years. She has been an education reporter, regional reporter and currently writes features with an emphasis on health.

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