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Shawn Morelli was in the Army and deployed as an engineer officer in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated.


“It was all ripped away, and so quickly,” Morelli told The Meadville Tribune. “I went from being a company commander in the Army to being confined to a hospital bed.”

The Meadville, Pennsylvania native was in a hospital bed for six straight months recovering
from brain trauma, blindness in her left eye and severe damage to her spine and neck. It took
her almost two years after that to be close to normal again.

Looking for ways to help fix her mind and body, Morelli took to cycling and then just took off. She eventually made the 2016 U.S. Paralympic team that competed in Rio.

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“It was a huge honor to be able to wear my country’s colors on that international stage,” she told the Penn State News. “It’s one of those things that every kid dreams about.”

So is winning gold medals. Morelli won two of them in the Paralympic Games in Rio.

“It’s not just a victory for me but everyone who has been through something like this,” Morelli said, “where someone has told them they won’t do something again.”

Morelli, 40, won a bronze medal in the 2020 World Championships and hopes to be part of the U.S. team that competes the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021.

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