The year is 1920. Prohibition begins, women are granted the right to vote, and a future massage-therapy pioneer is born.

Massage therapist, educator and founder of Irene’s Myomassology Institute, Irene Gauthier, celebrated her 90th birthday recently, with a celebration attended by many of the students and clients she touched—figuratively and literally—over the decades.

Her daughter, Kathy Gauthier, invited all of her mother’s past students, from the handful of bright-eyed massage enthusiasts Irene informally taught in her basement as early as 1976, to everyone who has attended Irene’s Myomassology Institute since she opened its doors in Southfield, Michigan, in 1987.

More than 2,000 people attended the event, and more than 1,200 of them participated in smashing the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest massage chain.

While the massive massage chain was an achievement on a global scale, the true power of the event was its profound personal effect on Irene Gauthier. “I honestly think she’s happier now than she’s ever been in her life,” said Kathy Gautheir. “It validated everything she’s done, having all those people finally give her a sense of her accomplishments.”

—Carolyn Dalton

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