18 months after being paralyzed, Wolcott woman to defy odds at H - WFSB 3 Connecticut


18 months after being paralyzed, Wolcott woman to defy odds at Hartford marathon

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Jillian Harpin. (WFSB) Jillian Harpin. (WFSB)

Eighteen months ago, a woman from Wolcott never thought she'd be moving, much less competing in a marathon.

In three days, 25-year-old Jillian Harpin will be hand-cycling in the Eversource Hartford Marathon after being paralyzed from the waist down.

"There's nothing you really can't do," Harpin said.

Harpin attributed part of her success to a training device that's only being used at Gaylord Hospital.

It allowed him to push that determination to the limit.

"There are times where I will break down like 'Why has this happened to me? It's not really fair. I'm a really good person,' but I try to limit those to moments," she said.

In April 2016, she fell off of a hotel balcony while vacationing in Mexico.

"I went to go sit on the railing and I fell down three stories to the ground," Harpin said.

For months, she said she has been regaining her strength and mobility at Gaylord Hospital. She said a unique device, a wearable, robotic suit, has allowed her to stand and walk again.

She didn't think that was possible.

"I've been walking every week in the Ekso," Harpin said. "I've walked over 15,000 steps at this point."

The "Esko" is ready-to-wear and battery powered. It's essentially an exoskeleton and the only one in the state.

"Whenever I talk about it, I just get the biggest smile on my face and whenever I'm in it, I'm just happy the whole time," Harpin said. "It's just so great to be upright and face-to-face with people."

She said the Esko has changed her life while allowing her to live how she always imagined.

"I have the same five-year plan to move up in my job, find someone to marry, get a house, maybe a dog," she said.

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