Paralympian Susannah Scaroni grew up in the small town of Tekoa, Washington surrounded by wheat fields and nature. Her mother Barbara, a forest ranger, encouraged a love of the outdoors.
When she was five, Susannah, her mother and brother were severely injured when their car slid on black ice into a utility truck. Susannah snapped her spinal cord and was paralyzed from the waist down.
As she adapted to her new life in a wheelchair, her family and community surrounded her with encouragement and a get-it-done spirit. Scaroni stayed involved in outdoor activities and tried wheelchair basketball before finding her niche in wheelchair track.
After attending a small college in Montana, Scaroni transferred to the University of Illinois to pursue wheelchair with the encouragement of head coach Adam Bleakney. Scaroni fell in love with the unique Illinois landscape, which is ideal for track and field training -- especially for long distance athletes. Scaroni began competing professionally in 2012, when she placed second in the Chicago Marathon and 8th at the Summer Paralympic Games. Her career has skyrocketed from there with gold and bronze wins at the 2021 Paralympics and many first place marathon wins worldwide -- including the 2022 New York City Marathon and the 2023 Boston Marathon.
It hasn't been easy. In 2021, a car accident nearly ended her career when she was hit as she trained on a local road. Despite the recovery and the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, her career continues to flourish. Scaroni says her proudest achievement, however, is getting her Master's degree in nutritional science from the University of Illinois. She maintains that excellent nutrition, and the ability to focus well, are keys to her success.
Watch her story on the first episode of "Prairie Fire."