By Bailey Kozalla, sports editor
SAEGERTOWN, PA –Two-time paralympic gold medalist, Shawn Morelli will return to Saegertown High School on Nov. 3 to be honored at “Shawn Morelli Day.” Students and faculty will celebrate her achievements and learn about her story. The day will begin with a school-wide welcome assembly in the school’s auditorium. Then Morelli will visit Saegertown Elementary School and attend a special luncheon with students in the high school library. The afternoon will include a press conference with the staff of The Panther Press and visits to health, anatomy, and biomedical engineering classes. This will be Morelli’s first trip back to her alma mater. “I think it is pretty cool. To be recognized by the school is something I never thought of. It is an honor for me to give back my school and hometown,” said Morelli.
Shawn Morelli is a 1994 graduate of Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School. She attended Penn State and Webster Universities in 1998 and 2001. After graduating, she became an engineer officer in the United States Army. In 2007, Morelli was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. It left her with neck and nerve damage, traumatic brain injury, and permanent blindness in her left eye. Two years later, Morelli decided to take up cycling. “I took up cycling as a way to heal mentally and physically. After I was wounded it awoke so much in my life that was different and my therapist and PT were thinking of ways to get me active again as I regained ability to walk and balance. They suggested cycling believing it would give me back some of that freedom I had lost,” Morelli said. She now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is working on a Ph.D. in public and community service. She coaches a high school soccer team, mentors kids at a local community center, and speaks to health classes.
Morelli has a total of six medals in her cycling career. Two gold were from her recent win at the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio. Morelli was one of nine cyclists competing in the C4 road race category. Crossing the finish line with a time of 29:25:40 enabled her to capture gold, after 9.3 miles of pedaling. In the individual pursuit race, Morelli competed against eight other cyclists in the C4 category. She placed first in the preliminaries and won the gold medal match against Australian Susan Powell with a time of 3:59.407, five seconds ahead of her competitor.