Multiple Teams · Four-Sport Student-Athlete Battles Cancer, Earns Comeback Award


Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano Gives Keynote Address at Awards Event…

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – April 9, 2013 – A four-sport high school student-athlete did not allow cancer to interrupt her academics or her dedication to her teammates, and now she has received the Brady Sports Achievement Award for her inspiring comeback. Shanna Kelly of Alexandria, Ind., had skin cancer, but she fought through an emotional recovery to rejoin her teammates at Alexandria Monroe High School.

Kelly and three other student-athletes across Indiana will receive the Brady Sports Achievement Award including Andrea “Drey” Mingo (Purdue University), Derek Drouin (Indiana University) and Noah James (Boonville High School). They were all honored at the eighth annual Brady Sports Achievement Awards, Thursday, April 11, at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis. The Brady Sports Achievement Awards were established by the Methodist Sports Medicine Research and Education Foundation, and are sponsored by ATI Physical Therapy to honor four Indiana student-athletes that have overcome injury or hardship.

Kelly was selected team captain of the basketball team and class president in each of her four years at Alexandria Monroe High School. Kelly has earned All-County and All-Conference honors in basketball, and also competed as a member of the volleyball, track, and tennis teams.

At the end of her junior year, a routine hair appointment turned into a life-changing event when abnormalities were discovered in Kelly’s scalp. Doctors quickly determined that it was melanoma. Biopsies revealed that cancer was spreading to other areas and could potentially be deadly. Kelly knew the treatment plan would be difficult, and it included side effects that would take its toll on her body immediately. It reached a point that treatments were delayed due to new complications. After battling for several months, Kelly made a hard decision to stop treatments. Due to fatigue and a weakened immune system, she was unable to regularly attend school during the first nine weeks of her senior year. However, she still completed advanced placement and honors school work from home while maintaining her grades.

Kelly eventually returned to school on a regular basis and returned to her basketball team, where she gave 100 percent every moment on the court.  Even though she did not compete in all of the games, no one heard Kelly complain about her circumstances. She averaged 13 points per game, and led her team to victory even on occasions where flu-like symptoms flared up.

“I have been in education for 40 years, and I have never witnessed anyone who displayed more heart and determination than Shanna in overcoming this adversity,” said Alexandria Monroe High School Principal, Jim Regenold. “She now knows that life has no guarantees.”

For the next two years, Kelly will see the oncologist and dermatologist regularly.

Beyond the classroom and athletic competition, Kelly volunteers as a coach at the Alexandria Community Center, works on the school newspaper and yearbook staff and helps organize school activities. With her team, she wraps presents for needy families as part of an Elks volunteer project. She has been a model school citizen, being an Athlete of Character as well as a Scholar of Character. Kelly plans to attend Butler University.

The keynote speaker for the Brady Sports Achievement Awards, which honors sports heroes past and present, was Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano’s recent three-month leave of absence from the NFL sidelines while battling leukemia received national attention and outpouring of support.

In addition, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) presented the C. Eugene Cato Memorial Scholarship awards. Twelve Hoosier scholar-athletes are recognized for academic accomplishments and hard work and dedication within their chosen sport in honor of the former IHSAA commissioner. To conclude the award presentation, two Indiana sports legends were recognized for their long-time professional accomplishments within the field of athletics. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were Indianapolis Indians President Max Schumacher, and Bill Mallory, the all-time leader in football coaching wins at Indiana University.

Proceeds from the event and the silent auction will help to support the Methodist Sports Medicine Research and Education Foundation.