Coronavirus survivor conquers local Trail Challenge against the odds

David, Elana and Jane Novick enjoy accomplishing another of the MetroParks Trail Challenge hikes.


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David, Elana and Jane Novick enjoy accomplishing another of the MetroParks Trail Challenge hikes.


A Dayton family went head-to-head with COVID-19 and came out of their challenging chapter miles ahead.

Jane Novick traveled from Dayton to New York City on March 31 to care for her daughter Elana Novick, who contracted the coronavirus, and needed to be cared for outside of the group home in NYC where she lived. Mother and daughter lived for two weeks in isolation in a NYC AirBnB until Elana was safe to travel home to Ohio.

The pair returned on April 14 so Elana, who is developmentally delayed, could regain her strength at her parents’ Dayton home after fighting-off the virus. Novick said Elana could barely walk five minutes without losing her breath.

Rehabilitation began slowly with daily laps around the Novicks yard and games of “quarantine Monopoly” with Elana’s father, David Novick, in the other room on Facetime. Progress really picked up when the family read about Five Rivers’ MetroParks Trail challenge.

ExploreTake the trail challenge this summer to connect with nature, win prizes

The challenge consists of 25 trails varying in length and difficulty designed to ensure anyone can participate. It was perfect. Elana could regain stamina without needing to go inside buildings or come in contact with others.

Elana became so motivated by the challenge, she completed all 19 trails that did not require a bike or kayak between June 12 and July 31, despite having lost almost all of her strength just months before.

“Initially, she was somewhat fearful of the uneven surfaces,” Jane Novick said. “After a few trails, and the purchase of hiking poles, she was handling the inclines and declines, paths covered with tree roots, and other obstacles as if she never had a balance problem. "

ExploreMiami Valley trails get lots of love from National Geographic

“She just kept getting stronger and stronger,” Jane Novick said.

Elana even knocked out the challenge’s 7.5-mile trail at Germantown MetroPark during a heatwave without any issues.

In the month and a half of working on the challenge, she lost 18 pounds after previously struggling to shed the weight.

“Everyone thinks of people with disabilities as, ‘Poor things, how sad,‘” Jane Novick said. “And what people don’t realize, and I learned from having my daughter, is they can be role models. I can’t tell you what we’ve all learned from her because my daughter Elana, she’s the first one to look at things in a positive.”

In her 50s, Jane Novick returned to school to study law so she could work as an advocate for families who also have loved ones with developmental delays. Today, she is the manager of the Montgomery County Juvenile Court CASA Program, or Court Appointed Special Advocates program.

“You can’t just look at someone and say, ‘Oh, they look like this, therefore they can only do this,’” Jane Novick said. “You don’t know. ... We all want to push our children to reach their potential — disability or not.”

People can join the challenge by visiting

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