Paralympian Stephanie Jallen Greets Fans Ahead Of Trip To South Korea
SCRANTON — When Jacky Skubic lost her foot after a car accident, it wasn’t long before comforting thoughts overcame her.
Once the initial shock went away, Skubic, of Pleasant Mount, thought of her cousin, Dan Monzo, and of Stephanie Jallen — both Paralympic athletes Skubic had met before the accident.
“My first thought when I saw my foot hanging was, ‘It’s OK. I’ll ski and snowboard again.’ It’s not the end of that,” Skubic said. “I have my cousin Danny, I knew Stephanie. I knew, you lose a leg, it’s not the end of skiing and snowboarding.”
Wearing a 2014 Paralympic Games shirt from Sochi, Russia, that Monzo gave her, Skubic and dozens of other supporters didn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Jallen and wish her good luck before she heads off for her second Paralympic Games.
Skubic got to come full-circle with Jallen after their first encounter during Thursday night’s informal meet and greet — just days after she finally returned to the slopes.
Jallen, 22, said hello to supporters for an hour-and-a-half at the Scranton Cultural Center. It was the last hometown appearance for the Harding native and 2014 Wyoming Area graduate before she leaves for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, scheduled for March 9-18.
It’s her second appearance at the Paralympics. Jallen, a business management major at King’s College, earned bronze medals in the Super-G and super combined at the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
Both of her bronze medals were on display Thursday when family members, friends and fans came to meet Jallen. But Skubic first met Jallen before she won those medals at the highest level.
Skubic read a magazine profile on Jallen in 2013 and was inspired by her story. Skubic, who patrolled the ski slopes at Elk Mountain Ski Resort, wondered to herself whether she could meet Jallen someday — and did so soon after.
Jallen came to the resort for a photo shoot, and Skubic had the opportunity to ski with her around the mountain and help out. As it turned out, Jallen later competed in Sochi for the United States along with Monzo, a snowboard cross competitor.
Skubic thought of them when she lost her foot in August 2014. Jallen, after all, won a pair of skiing bronzes despite a birth defect that left her with one leg and one fully developed arm.
“Even when life takes unexpected turns, it’s not the end of your adventure,” she said.
It wasn’t for Skubic — she was skiing again for the first time Tuesday.
“I wanted to be crying out of happiness, but I was laughing,” she said. “I was in an ear-to-ear grin.”
As Thursday’s event and others in the past have shown, plenty of others have also looked up to Jallen.
Jim Gaughan was also in attendance Thursday and has supported and helped fund-raise for Jallen’s pursuits since she started skiing more than a decade ago.
Gaughan, the CEO at North East Pennsylvania Auto Auction, said Jallen has become someone for his children to look up to.
“She has this confidence about her that is unstoppable, and her drive that she has to get there is uncharacteristic,” Gaughan said.
“I’ve always used Stephanie as a rock (for my children), that they can overcome anything.”
If all goes well, Jallen could give all her supporters even more to cheer for next month.
Not only will she be competing in the Super-G, super combined and slalom again, she’s covering the entire skiing schedule with downhill and giant slalom on her plate this time, too.
“It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment, but when you get to this level it’s almost surreal,” Jallen said. “You think to yourself, ‘this is actually happening.’ You have to live in the moment and take it all it.”
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