ENHP Student Finishes First in Women's Wheelchair Marathon
Helen Newman, a fourth-year exercise science student in the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, finished in first place in the Eversource Hartford Marathon 26-mile Women's Wheelchair Race in October—and second overall among men and women competing in the Marathon Wheelchair Race.
Newman, a Connecticut native who was born with a disability that compelled a life of wheelchair dependency, as well as a love of physical activity, chose UHart because of family members who attended the West Hartford campus and thrived here in sports. “My grandfather played basketball and my dad played lacrosse,” she says. “But even beyond that, I love how the University feels like a tight-knit community, and how the entire faculty and staff support all the students.”
Hartford was Newman’s second marathon, having completed one in Massachusetts in September. She participated in that one, she explains, to become familiar with wheelchair marathoning so that she could take on the Hartford challenge with confidence. “I’ve been doing track and road racing since I was three years old, so a marathon seemed a logical next step,” she says.
Newman credits her support team, which includes family members who helped her get involved with adaptive sports early in life. Her friends, too, both inside and outside school, have been very encouraging. “I have so many friends I met through adaptive sports who have served as mentors and helped me pursue my goals. I also have professors who are interested in learning about wheelchair racing and love to talk to me about it, Newman says. As an exercise science major, she finds it motivating to talk strategy with her professors and get their opinions and advice.
Newman also credits the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain for sparking her early involvement in adaptive sports. Among her first sport endeavors were wheelchair track and field, and over the years, she narrowed her focus to track and road racing. She also enjoys rock climbing and wheelchair basketball.
“My biggest goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon,” she says, “and to compete in a competition called the World Marathon Majors.”
What motivated Newman during the grueling race in Hartford was hearing people cheer her on and knowing she had friends and family waiting at the finish line. In addition to an encouraging support system, she says that hydrating well and fueling your body with proper nutrition all year long are extremely important elements for success.
“Helen is an amazing student who helps create a sense of community in our young program,” says Linda M. Yamamoto, assistant professor and program director of exercise science in the Department of Health Sciences. “Helen takes what we talk about in class about the role of exercise and then demonstrates on the outside how she and others can use that to meet all goals in life.”
Reflective of Newman’s own passions, the Hartford Marathon Foundation, which sponsors the annual event is a not-for-profit organization devoted to the promotion of healthy living through fitness and physical activity for people of all ages, abilities, identities, and experience. Newman plans to continue with her training for future marathons.
Linda M. Yamamoto, Assistant professor and program director of exercise science in the Department of Health Sciences
Helen is an amazing student who helps create a sense of community in our young program. Helen takes what we talk about in class about the role of exercise and then demonstrates on the outside how she and others can use that to meet all goals in life.