Baldwin High School's cross country teams will get an extra boost of inspiration today.
Baldwin's senior Juliana Fortunato, who was injured terribly in June when a motorist struck her near the Route 51-Brownsville Road intersection while she was out jogging, will meet her goal of returning to competitive racing when Fox Chapel Area High School visits Baldwin High on Monday, Oct. 15, for Senior Day.
The girls race is expected to start between 3:45 and 4 p.m. at Baldwin Stadium in Whitehall Borough, followed by the boys race. The course for both races covers many parts of the Baldwin H.S. grounds but starts and ends on the Baldwin Stadium track.
Following the races, Baldwin's teams will celebrate Senior Day in the Baldwin H.S. South Cafeteria at around 5:30 or 5:45.
"She's still got some pains and aches and different things," said Rich Wright, a co-head coach within Baldwin's cross country program, of Fortunato. "The trainers and her physical therapist are (debating over,) optimally, should she run, shouldn't she run, but she's running.
"Senior Rec is today, so she's definitely running."
During an interview in August, Juliana's mother, Susan, did not wish to divulge exact particulars of her daughter's injuries—"I don't want anybody to limit her," Susan said—but it is known that Juliana's many injuries included her mouth being wired shut, multiple broken bones and a severe concussion.
In August, she was steadily recovering and was walking an hour per day.
Wright, who joined Juliana—known by her loved ones as "Jules"—on some of her recovery walks, said that Jules went through a workout with her teammates about a week or so ago.
"She did pretty well in it," Wright said, "but she's having problems with aches and pains and just little things that, I think as she's trying to push her body a little bit more, she's just having little things pop up here and there.
"She's very serious about running today, but I don't know for sure if she's going to run any other races during cross country (this high school season). But she's definitely going to run today."
The Baldwin cross country teams are also expected to wear some pink clothing in honor of co-head coach Bunny Schmidt, who suffers from cancer. Schmidt has survived two battles with breast cancer, and in 2010, she was diagnosed with bone cancer.
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