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Crossing the Finish Line for a Friend

By: Janelle LoBello

Jenn Bowen, Gianfranco Gervasio, and Lucia DiNapoli at the Team Reeve NYC luncheon

Jenn Bowen, Gianfranco Gervasio,
and Lucia DiNapoli at the
Team Reeve NYC luncheon.

Jenn Madia Bowen, 33, has been longtime friends with Lucia DiNapoli since they were in elementary school as a matter of fact. So, when DiNapoli's brother, Gianfranco Gervasio, was spinal cord injured in the summer of 2009, Bowen knew there was more for her to do than just be a friend.

"When Lucia told us about Gian's accident, I think I probably cried for a week straight," explains Bowen. "I just kind of felt hopeless. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't really imagine what they were going through, so I wanted to do something to show our support for Gian and his family."

Through connections with DiNapoli and the Reeve Foundation, Bowen signed up to run the 2010 ING New York City Marathon for Team Reeve in honor of Gervasio.

Taking on Team Reeve
After she agreed to run for Team Reeve, Bowen called her husband and simply said, "I literally just said yes to run the New York City marathon. Yeah, I'm going to do it. That's it, that's all there is to it."

And so since that day in June, Bowen has been all about fundraising and running.

Now that Bowen has completed the marathon, and plans on taking it on again in 2011, she is overwhelmed with her accomplishment.

"There's no way that I could sum up in words the whole experience," says Bowen. "I can't. I ran every 26.2 miles with a smile on my face!"

Lucia and Gianfranco cheering on Jenn!

Lucia and Gianfranco
cheering on Jenn!

Bowen was smiling even more when she saw the Gervasio family during the last stretch of the course. "I do have to say when I saw them at mile 24, I was so happy to see them," exclaims Bowen. "It gave me that last little bit to just keep going."

"As soon as I crossed the finish line, I could feel this huge sense of relief," explains Bowen. "I just accomplished all of this; not just the run, but the fundraising part of it, and getting the Reeve Foundation name out there. When I got closer to the finish line, I heard these jingle bells. I'm looking to see whose ringing bells, and across the finish line, I could see all of the volunteers with all of the gold medals. All of the medals that were clinking together, that was the sound! That's the best sound that I have heard!"

Training with La Palestra
Despite her athletic background, Bowen never liked to run. "My degree is in Exercise Science," explains Bowen. "I'm a personal trainer so I've always been active. But even though I'm a trainer, and I liked to do those things, I never liked to run. It's probably one of my least favorite things!"

When it came time to train for the marathon, Bowen was taken back, but glad to have the support of La Palestra gym, whom Team Reeve partnered with for the marathon.

"If we didn't have them [La Palestra], I would have said, 'I'm done,'" says Bowen. "It would have been an easy way out. But they were amazing. There's so many logistics to how're you going to fuel yourself, what you're going to use. They were just there to answer every single question and they gave you a whole roadmap to it."

Jenn Bowen’s sons supporting their mom

Bowen’s sons supporting their mom.

Super mom
Through all of her training, Bowen's family support helped tremendously.

"It's just like anything else, when you make a commitment, you have to make it a priority," explains Bowen, mother of three boys.

"Throughout the summer the priority was getting everybody up and we all went to the gym. Or we all went running through the park or wherever we were going. They were happy, they were happy to be a part of it. They knew what was going on."

Bowen's six-year-old son, Nathan couldn't be prouder of his mom. "Nathan tells all his friends and all his friend's moms that, 'My mommy is trying to raise money so doctors can find a cure for people in wheelchairs.' That's what he tells everybody!"

Learn more about some of our Team Reeve athletes.

  • Donate
  • Join Team Reeve
  • Get Involved
  • Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center
  • Reeve Foundation Advocacy
Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders