It was Stephanie Jallen Day. Officially.
Wyoming Area Superintendent Raymond Bernardi and Exeter Mayor Cassandra Coleman-Corcoran officially declared March 22, 2014, Stephanie Jallen Day in the Wyoming Area School District and the collective five boroughs that make up the district following a motorcade parade down Wyoming Avenue Saturday.
In front of thousands of supporters, Jallen spoke at a program following the parade as her bronze medals sounded together.
“My entire life goal was to reach the Paralympics,” Jallen said. “It’s surreal now that it’s over.”
Jallen wanted to clarify a misunderstanding that she was the one who brought home two bronze medals from Sochi, Russia.
“Everyone here (won those medals),” she said. “Everyone here — my parents, my classmates, the teachers, the school board and my community — you gave me the opportunity. You deserve all the praise.”
The parade started at the Midway Shopping Center with a number of local entities traveling down Wyoming Avenue in honor of their Paralympic champion.
Led by police and fire departments from across the Greater Pittston area, Jallen road steady in a Chevy Corvette, owned by her public relations manager Tony Callaio. The roar of motorcycles from the Wyoming Valley Motorcycle Club, Friends of the Forgotten, ABATE, and local American Legion riders sounded through the streets.
Fans and supporters lined the streets holding signs echoing Jallen’s accomplishments. One sign pretty much summed up how the community feels about Jallen. It read “Stephanie Jallen: Two bronze medals, one heart of gold.”
Towns from all over the Wyoming Valley had a part in honoring Jallen.
“There’s not many times you get to salute a Paralympic athlete like Stephanie,” Swoyersville councilman Christopher Concert said prior to the parade. “We’ve been following her from the start and this is just a great thing.”
Bob Borzell, a maintenance worker at St. Barbara’s Parish, along with his son Brandon and wife Cindy, were part of the parade in Bob’s 1966 Dodge Polara. St. Barbara’s Parish has been the home to many fundraisers for Stephanie over the past several years.
“It’s surprising,” Borzell said. “We have a hard time standing on two legs let alone skiing on one. It’s a great thing what she did.”
Pennsylvania State Representative Phyllis Mundy spoke at the program and presented a citation to Jallen. Mundy said she will honor Jallen on the House floor in Harrisburg in the very near future.
“What a remarkable young woman,” Mundy said. “You can tell that this whole community is in awe of you and your accomplishment.”
Born with the rare birth defect CHILDS (Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosiform Erythroderma and Limb Defects Syndrome), Jallen has only one leg and only one fully developed arm.
Throughout the past several years, the Stephanie Jallen Fund Inc. has been a driving force to keep Jallen on pace to achieve her dreams. Downhill skiing is one of the most expensive sports, she said. And without the fund, none of it would have happened.
“Anywhere you go in the district today, everything is free,” Bernardi laughed in his opening remarks of the program. “Tell them Bernardi sent you.”
Jallen is headed to King’s College in the fall.