|Bennie Panaro holds up her annual Senior's Pass, gifted by Calgary Transit for her 105th birthday|
As Calgary Transit prepares to celebrate 105 years, staff delivered a gift to one Calgarian with the same birthday.
On July 5, both Calgary Transit and Bennie Panaro will turn 105 and in honour of that birthday, Calgary Transit delivered an annual Senior Citizen Pass to Panaro on a charter bus she’s frequented over the years.
“She still takes Calgary Transit,” said Garry Boucher, Panaro’s friend and caregiver, adding they’ll likely be taking Transit to the Calgary Stampede for Western Heritage Day.
Panaro’s daughter Leslie McInally said her mom began using Calgary Transit as her primary mode of transportation at the age of 88 after her car died.
“She would travel all over Calgary,” said McInally, adding her mom knew all the bus schedules and got to know the city well by taking Transit. “Still to this day when I’m driving ... she directs me everywhere.”
Sharon Bruder and her husband Chris Bruder, both Calgary Transit operators, have known Panaro for years and describe her was one of their most memorable customers.
“I used to drive the 414 up and down 14th Street. I used to take Bennie to church,” said Sharon. “I would drop her off at the corner so she would have a shorter walk.”
In addition to playing bridge competitively, Panaro volunteers once a week and goes out for a walk at least once a day.