Mom, 60, tests new hips on marathon

Bernadette Solano, pictured with husband Jose, will rise to a new challenge Saturday when she tackles the Newport Marathon with a pair of prosthetic hips. (Courtesy photo)

NEWPORT — Leading a pack of half-marathoners at the starting line of Saturday’s Newport Marathon will be a 60-year-old mother and loving wife with a new set of hips and a will to surmount any challenge.

Bernadette Solano, 18 months from her second hip replacement, will test her bionic parts as a walker on the 13.1-mile half-course to prove the triumph of surgery over a body once crippled by arthritis.

“The pain was excruciating for 10 years,” recalled Soldano, the wife of musician Jose’ Solano and mother of collegians Sophia and Isabel. “I want to encourage others who have undergone joint replacement. The body can heal and be stronger than before the surgery, much stronger.”

The Solano family moved to from Pacific City to Newport in 2012, attracted by the high school’s challenging baccalaureate program for the daughters and a flourishing arts community, a good fit for flamenco-guitarist Jose’. Bernadette’s first surgery in 2012 was such a success she decided to enter the 2019 Newport Marathon following her second hip replacement in 2018.

“It’s major surgery, but it can be life-altering once you make the plunge,” she said.

Solano, who designs instructional curriculums from home, is no stranger to life’s trials. Husband Jose’ suffered two strokes in March — one at home, the other after he was in the hospital. He is now enrolled in outpatient care at the Samaritan Rehabilitation Center with in-home assistance from the Aging Wisely agency.

“I also want to encourage stroke survivors,” said Solano who was granted a special number by race organizers, 2060 (as in, ‘2’ new hips, ‘0’ pain and ‘60’ years old.) “Stroke recovery advocates apply the motto, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ We live a stone’s throw from the finish line, so my husband will be cheering me on from our deck as I walk, stroll, or stagger by. Maybe I’ll be able to sprint the last few yards, or maybe José will join me to cross the finish line; together we are stronger after surgery and stronger after stroke.”

Solano cites the book, “Stronger After Stroke,” as an uplifting read, and urges families affected by stroke to visit the stroke support group that meets on the first Saturday of each month from 1-3 p.m. at the Newport 60+ Center. The next meeting falls on June 1, the same day as the Newport marathon.

“Stroke survivors and those recovering from major surgery are vulnerable,” Solano concluded. “They struggle, relying on the kindness and support of others to get back on their feet.”

If readers would like to sponsor my marathon walk, donations can be made to Newport’s Samaritan House, which serves vulnerable families at www.samfamshelter.org. Click on the ‘Donate Now’ button, then add “marathon” in the ‘Write a note line,’ Solano said.

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