Saint Mary’s junior Maddie Helman isn’t celebrating her 21st birthday like most young women. Helman will be running the Walt Disney World Marathon on Jan. 12 to raise money for Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that provides guidance through running to young girls ages third through fifth grade. In addition to the marathon falling on her 21st birthday, Helman said this year’s marathon marks the 20th anniversary of her mom’s first marathon at Disney. Jamie Helman said she ran her first marathon at Disney two days before her daughter’s first birthday. As a baby, Maddie Helman was hospitalized at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis three weeks before the marathon, and Jamie Helman said she shifted her focus from training to her daughter. Fortunately, Jamie Helman said her daughter recovered fully before the race. “It was a great accomplishment for us both, and I know running this marathon together on her 21st birthday, in 2014, will be an even greater cause for celebration,” Jamie Helman said. Maddie and Jamie Helman have partnered with the Michiana Council of Girls on the Run through a program called SoleMates, which teaches health and nutrition to the girls and trains them for a 5K race over the course of 12 weeks. according to the Girls on the Run website. SoleMates raises money by encouraging runners to get sponsors, according to the Girls on the Run website. Maddie Helman said her goal is to raise $2,100 in honor of her 21st birthday, and Jamie Helman said her goal is to raise $2,000 in honor of the 20th anniversary of first running the Disney marathon. Maddie and Jamie Helman’s impact on the organization goes beyond just fundraising. Jamie Helman said she serves as the co-chair for development for Girls on the Run, and Maddie Helman said she is a coach. As a coach, Maddie Helman said she understands the direct impact her fundraising will have on the girls. When her team finished the 5K last spring, she knew what she was doing something meaningful, she said. “You could see the sense of accomplishment on their faces,” she said. Maddie Helman said running is a prominent part of her life and her inspiration comes from her favorite running partner: her mom. “My mom inspires me to dig deep and keep going even when it’s not fun,” Maddie Helman said. Maddie Helman said she started running in seventh grade and didn’t enjoy it at all, but she grew to love it and ran her first half marathon in eighth grade. “It’s about mind over matter; it’s about never giving up,” she said. Maddie Helman said her love for running has only grown since, culminating in running her first marathon in Chicago in 2011. “I can’t go for a run and not say thank you,” she said. “It automatically makes the day better.” For more information on Maddie Helman’s training and fundraising, visit her blog at http://twentyseventhmile.wordpress.com/.
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