Running to Inspire

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2013
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This article appears in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

The same day that Helene Neville's doctors told her she was losing her battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, the traveling registered nurse decided she would run a marathon. The furthest she had ever run was six miles. In 2010, her cancer in remission, Neville ran the length of the United States from Ocean Beach, Calif., to Atlantic Beach, Fla., a total of 2,520 miles in 93 days, averaging 27 miles a day. She made many stops along the way, speaking at hospitals and schools about the importance of health and fitness, especially for nurses and healthcare providers, whom she feels should be role models for the communities they serve. This year, Neville completed a 1,500-mile run from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tijuana, Mexico, in 45 days, averaging 38 miles per day.  

On making things work: Nurses in general have the innovation gene. It's part of our DNA. We are constantly facing dynamic situations. You're seeing a patient every day with these complex issues, and you have to be great at time management and never give up. We make things work, and that's how I organize my runs, like a care plan. It's totally grassroots, but it works.

On inspiring providers to get moving: The human body is the miracle. The miracle isn't something outside of our body. I just want people—if they're inspired by what I do—to take that inspiration and turn it into action. Why would you give credence to a nurse or doctor who is telling you to go home and eat well and exercise, when they are obviously unhealthy. In order to change the public's health, the very people providing the care should be healthy themselves.

On leading a healthy nation: Nurses are already a legion of courageous, competent professionals, and we are already on the front lines. The nursing life is never about me; it's always about giving back and being a nurturer. It makes sense that we are the trailblazers for healthy communities, and we should get those little waves of inspiration going. We understand the gaps and disparities and so much about our communities. At every community gathering, it's always an opportunity to make a difference or be a role model.

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This article appears in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.




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