Helene Neville is a nurse, grandmother, author, health advocate, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, fitness coach, and cancer survivor. At age 50, she decided to become one more thing - a transcontinental runner to challenge others to "Rethink Impossible."
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Havertown, Pennsylvania, she attended high school in Burlington, Vermont and college in Iowa. After graduation, she began her nursing and coaching careers in 1984.
From 1993 to 2001, Helene served as Community Health Education Consultant for the Iowa Department of Public Health. While there, she was recognized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and was appointed Liaison on the Gulf War Illness Study. She also served on the Iowa Department for Public Health Excellence Team and the Minority and Multicultural Health Committee.
In 1999, she launched her first business, Well-Fit, LLC, coaching corporate health and fitness strategies. She was a volunteer fitness and running coach at the Iowa Department for the Blind, the YMCA, the Special Olympics, the Cerebral Palsy Association of Iowa, and Team Achilles. She spearheaded a bone marrow registry drive through the University of Iowa. She also volunteered at homeless shelters in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2000, she received the Key to the City and Proclamation in Des Moines, Iowa and was awarded the Iowa Governor's Seal for Community Service.
She started running marathons after a cancer scare in the 1990s. That medical intrusion in her life involved three brain surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Despite further residual health setbacks, Helene started running marathons between nearby Chicago and as far away as London, England. In the London Marathon, she qualified for the world-renowned Boston Marathon. She placed third female overall at the Warner Robbins Marathon in Georgia. But, her most notable marathon challenge was in Fox Cities, Wisconsin. At this marathon, she accompanied her friend Don Owens, who had lost his sight 20 years earlier. Don had asked Helene to help him train to run a marathon. Following a 16-week training program, they crossed the finish line tethered to each other with a bungee cord.
Helene has competed in two bodybuilding competitions, placing in both, and has climbed several mountains, the most notable being her ascent/descent of Mount Whitney, the highest in the continental United States.
In 2001, she single-handedly founded and directed the Des Moines Marathon. For her accomplishment, she received the Runner's World George Sheehan Golden Shoe Award and was one of four finalists for the Iowa Star Award. The 2002, the inaugural Des Moines Marathon made the top 50 marathons of 306 marathons in the USA. In 2005, Helene sold the Des Moines Marathon to the Endurance Sports Marketing Corporation.
In 2010, she published her first book, Nurses In Shape, The Right Dose and took the book and ran with it - literally. On May 1, 2010, with book in hand, Helene set her first world record as the first person to run the entire length of the southern United States in the hot and humid conditions of summer. It took her only 93 days to cover the 2,520 miles from Ocean Beach, California to Atlantic Beach, Florida.
During her 2010 run, the Mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico, presented Helene with the Key to the City for inspiring his community. The Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, awarded Helene the Friends of Phoenix Service Award. Following her 2010 run, she was an invited featured speaker at TedX Phoenix.
In 2012, she founded the National Nurses Health Institute. An annual event that includes a two-day healthy nurse conference, a half marathon, a 5K, and a Zumbathon. The inaugural event was in held October 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was named the top running event in Nevada and was named one of the top 50 running events across America. Academy Award nominated actress Diane Lane and former Foreign Minister, noble prize recipient, and world-renowned nurse pioneer Edna Adan Ismail from Somaliland, were guest speakers at the inaugural nursing conference and race.
Following a successful inaugural nurse's event in October of 2013, Helene was nominated for inclusion into the 16th annual special edition of Distinguished Women of Nevada.
After publishing her second book, One On The Run, 93 Days Across America, at the age of 52, and after a cancer relapse, she started running on May 1, 2013, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, finishing in Tijuana, Mexico. It took her 45 days to run the 1,520 miles. Along this run, she carried a 26 pound urn filled with the ashes of her recently departed brother. During this run, Helene was presented with the Oregon State Pin by the Governor of Oregon.
On May 1, 2014, after the publication of her third book One On The Run, Border to Border, Helene left Marathon, Florida on May 1, and on July 6, 2014, completed her run in Harbor View Memorial Park in Portland, Maine. This run covered 1,860 miles in 68 days.
Helene left St. Stephen's, N.B., Canada, on May 1, 2015, and finished the 3,773 miles/128 day run in Ocean Shores, Washington, at the age of 55, establishing a new world record. Helene was the fifth person ever to run the perimeter of the continental United States. Her second world record was set as the first grandmother, first nurse, first cancer survivor, and the first person over the age of 32 to run the entire perimeter of the United States.
During her 2015 run, she was awarded a Proclamation for the City of Cleveland, the 'Ski' to the City of Killington, Vermont, The Key to the City of Ocean Shores, Washington, and the Recognition of Service Award from the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.
Helene is a nationally-known speaker and spokesperson. Some of her recent clients include the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Mt. Sinai, Genentech, the Girl Scouts of America, Emory University, American Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic, Billings Clinic, 26.2 Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, YMCA, and a host of others. She has been featured nationally and internationally in print and on radio and television.
Helene's perimeter run raised money for the Maryellen Rouse Neifert Memorial Fund. This fund was created to honor Helene's late mother by providing school supplies for students in an unrelenting and impoverished area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Following completion of the perimeter run, in October 2015, Helene was awarded The Flag for Hope Star. The 50 stars on the flag represent iconic Americans who have greatly contributed to the strength and well-being of our country. Helene is one of 50 people who were chosen out of 320 million. These star recipients are individuals who have inspired, empowered, and encouraged their fellow citizens through their actions as pioneers, role models, and leaders in our society and who embody the essence of the American spirit. The Flag for Hope will be donated to Smithsonian National Museum for all Americans to view for generations to come. Flagforhope.com.
In January 2016, Helene set her third world record by running 28 consecutive lengths of the Las Vegas Strip. In 35 hours she covered 135 miles. This run was a thank you to the Las Vegas community for supporting her on the last three legs of her perimeter run.
On November 25, 2016, Helene set a fourth world record. She ran the iconic steps at the Philadelphia Museum, also known as the "Rocky Steps" for a total of 16 miles non-stop. It took her seven and a half hours to run up and down 384 flights of steps. This run was in honor of her late brother. Helene had carried his urn since 2013, and this was to celebrate brining her brother home.
On May 1, 2017, Helene will set off from Evanston, Wyoming and run east toward West Virginia, and return west to finish running the final 12 states (4,000 miles in 5 months) and become only the second person ever, and the first woman to run across every state in the continental United States.
Her fourth and fifth books, Nurses in Shape-Nation In Shape, Edition II and One On The Run, Rethink Impossible will be released soon.
Helene is a 2011 graduate of the Emerge Arizona program and aspires to run for public office one day.
She is the proud mother of two sons Steven & Danny and her two grandchildren.
Helene Neville's next run beginning May 1, 2017!