SCRANTON, Pa. — You can learn a lot about Helen Macek from a brief interaction between her and Jean, her physical therapist.
"Come on, I want my four minutes," Jean told her as Helen began using an exercise machine to strengthen her arm muscles.
Helen immediately replied, "I can do it for six minutes.
The 14 year-old from Moosic isn't afraid of much.
"She'll throw her crutches, like 'I've got this to hold on to!'" described her mom, Karen.
While that fearlessness might scare her mother sometimes, she knows better than anyone that stopping her daughter from trying something challenging is a losing battle.
"Helen has got spice, and then some. If Helen wants to do something, there is no stopping Helen, so it's helping her figure out a way to get there," said her therapist Jean Fredmund.
Fredmund has been helping Helen do just that since she was a baby.
Helen was born with a rare genetic condition called sacral agenesis. Her spine didn't develop properly, severely limiting her mobility.
But Helen views those limitations as mere suggestions. When she was first born, doctors told her mom she might never be able to sit up, let alone stand or walk.
"She really doesn't like the idea of anybody looking at her and saying, 'Oh, poor her.' Because she doesn't look at it that way," Karen said. "She looks at it as, 'I have wheels, I can go where I want to go. I'm learning how to do things that are really, really challenging. I get to do things that I didn't think I'd ever get to do.'"
And Helen will get to show off some of those things at the Team Allied Services 5K and All Abilities Walk this weekend at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Scranton.
She'll be joined by plenty of other patients and residents of Allied, a rehab facility for kids & adults with disabilities.
Many will work all year long to achieve a milestone at the race.
At Helen's first All Abilities Walk, she only made it a few feet. A few years later, she took a lap around the entire track.
But her goals go beyond this race. Just like any other high school freshman, Helen wants to go to college, drive a car, and eventually live on her own.
"At this point, Helen's already talking about wanting to become an architect so that she can design living spaces for people who have disabilities," Karen said.
You can celebrate Helen's progress with all the All Abilities Walk participants this Saturday morning.
The 5K starts at 9 a.m., and the All Abilities Walk starts at 10 a.m.
It's $15 to register for the 5K ahead of time and $25 the day of.
The All Abilities Walk is free, open to all ages and abilities, and you don't have to register.
Click here for all the information.