Wolcott woman takes part in adaptive bootcamp, showing world what those in wheelchairs can do

News story still shot of woman in wheelchair using ropes to workout at Chapter 126

By: Sarah Cody
Posted: Jan 23, 2019 09:57 AM EST

Read Original Story and Watch Full Video Here!

BRISTOL – A Wolcott native, recently featured in People Magazine, wants to show the world what a person in a wheelchair can achieve.

She takes News 8 to an adaptive bootcamp inBristol. With incredible strength, grit and determination, athletes are taking-part in high intensity interval training at Chapter 126, an Oak Hill Center facility.

“We call it our Advanced Wheelchair Bootcamp class,” says Jillian Harpin, originally from Wolcott, the only woman in the class.  “It’s a group of young athletes in wheelchairs who don’t let their injuries stop them from kicking butt.”

The class takes place at Chapter 126, an Oak Hill Center facility.

“This gym is one of the only adaptive gyms in New England – specifically designed for people with disabilities,”  says the 26-year-old.  “I didn’t really know how strong I was before I was injured because I’d never rally had a reason to be.”

“In April 2016, I was on vacation with my three best friends in Mexico,” she says.

The recent college graduate – and financial analyst – sat on a hotel balcony railing while making a phone call.  She lost her balance – falling three stories to the ground below.

“I ended-up fracturing several vertebrae in back and became paralyzed from the waist down,” she explains, noting she’ll never forget her dad’s tears in the hospital.  “I immediately just began telling him, ‘This is going to be OK, I still have my head, I still have my hands, I’m still the same Jillian I was before.”

That spirit carried Harpin through months of grueling rehabilitation and into a surprisingly active life, thanks to an introduction to adaptive sports.

“I was shown how to shoot a bow and arrow play, wheelchair basketball, play wheelchair tennis,” she says.

She also loves walking in a battery-powered Exoskeleton at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare.

“Being upright and being able to walk along with friends – who I invite to all of my sessions – and just getting to talk to them face to face standing up,” she says, crediting her support system in helping her keep a positive attitude.

Harpin’s interaction with friends at the gym has changed her life, too.  They motivate and inspire each other, as they see endless possibilities for the future.

“I’m just trying to live my life to the very fullest to prove to myself there’s nothing I can’t do,” says Harpin who recently moved into her own apartment and now works at Numotion, the Rocky Hill company that provided her with a wheelchair, back in 2016.

Click here to learn more about Chapter 126.