Cancer survivor finishes marathon of love at Art Museum steps

The Rocky steps at the art museum were packed today, with men, women and children looking to get some exercise to work off that big thanksgiving meal.

However, we're betting none of them put in the kind of workout we saw when FOX 29's Bruce Gordon met up with a 56-year-old cancer-survivor, decked out in red, white and blue.

Randy Quintal had his sights set on one very special "stepper."

Then she came into view, jogging down Spring Garden toward the Art Museum in her red, white and blue runner’s suit, carrying a backpack, an American flag and a message.

"It doesn't matter how old you are,” said Quintal of his big sister’s mantra.  “If you set out to do something, you can do it." 

Helene Quintal Neville, a 56-year-old cancer survivor, ran ten miles from her childhood home in Havertown to get to the Art Museum, and looked to complete this unusual "marathon" by jogging the final 16.2 miles up and down the museum steps:  389 trips, in all.

She hoped to complete her run sometime late Friday evening.

Oh, she trained for it.  Her Thanksgiving meal? Steak and Lobster.

"All protein!" she laughs.

A nurse, now living in Las Vegas, who preaches healthy eating and healthy living, Helene has made a career out of long-distance runs.

Just last year, she completed a trip around the perimeter of the U-S; nearly 10,000 miles worth.

She relied on strangers for lodging and support.

"The only thing I could think of was, it was such a beautiful display of humanity."

On that trip as on this one, she carried with her the ashes of her brother Anthony, who died in 2013 after suffering a stroke the year before.

She has spread some of his ashes along her route, but will bring the rest to their mother's gravesite in Springfield, Delaware County.

"He went with me the whole way and that journey is over,” says Helene, “and now it's time for a new chapter and to put him to rest."

389 trips up and down these steps is no picnic.  Our Bruce Gordon joined her for a single “lap
and felt like he needed a stretcher!

But for Helene, all 5'3" and 117 pounds of her, it was a piece of cake!

"The word 'impossible’ is merely a phrase that offers an excuse," she told Gordon.

And so, at this iconic place that symbolizes the underdog giving it his all, Helene hopes to share a story that resonates just like the one about the down-and-out fighter from South Philly.

“Just try,” she says. “Just put action behind hope.  We can have all the hope we want, but if you don't have action, you're going nowhere."

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