SCRANTON — Jacky Skubic first read about Stephanie Jallen in a magazine in 2013.
A skiing and snowboarding fanatic, Skubic always wanted to meet the Luzerne County paralympian. She worked at Elk Mountain Ski Resort in Susquehanna County, and had the chance to ski with Jallen.
But Jallen’s story would come to mean much more to Skubic than she ever thought possible.
Skubic lost a foot in a car accident. After that, Skubic found Jallen’s story and uplifting spirit even more inspirational.
“A lot of people take walking for granted,” Skubic said. “(Jallen’s story) gives me hope. I don’t think anybody’s chance is over.”
Skubic had another chance to meet her inspiration, as Jallen took time out from training for the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games Thursday evening to thank Northeast Pennsylvania residents for their ongoing support.
“I would not have been able to compete, or train, or travel without my community,” Jallen, 22, said during a meet-and-greet session at the Scranton Cultural Center where she signed autographs, exchanged hugs, stories and a few laughs.
The Harding resident, who returned home from the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games with two bronze medals, was born with CHILD syndrome — Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosiform Erythroderma and Limb Defects — a condition that affects the development of several parts of the body. The signs and symptoms of the disorder are typically limited to either the right or left side of the body.
Jallen’s left side was affected, and when she competes, she is now allowed to wear any prosthetics so she has learned to use her left-side disabilities to her advantage.
The Wyoming Area graduate said even though it’s her second time competing in the Paralympics, it’s just as nerve-wracking.
“I feel more prepared in the sense that I know what to expect, but if anything, now the pressure is a little higher,” she said. “Because people now have an expectation of me to do well.”
“I’m still just as excited, and I’m going to try to do my absolute best.”
Jallen enjoys being able to use her platform as a way to reach out to others and share her journey.
“I just like to share my story, and show that hard work does pay off,” she said.
“I was a little 9-year-old girl with a dream of becoming an Olympian, and it happened.”
While Jallen wants to spread the message that dreams are achievable, she said it doesn’t mean they don’t take a lot of work.
“Nothing worth it is easy,” Jallen said. “Don’t be afraid of hard work.”
Jallen said the community has played an important role in her success.
“They have literally financially supported me through this entire process,” she said.
“I’m very excited to once again be able to represent my friends, family and country at the games. I really want them to know I appreciate everything they have done.”
Jallen leaves Monday for her last training camp before the games, and will travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in early March.
Reach Brigid Edmunds at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds