Tonawanda News — Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus, who returned to Western New York to great fanfare in March from his gold medal victory in Sochi, Russia as part of the United States men’s Paralympic sled hockey team, received the key to the city during Tuesday evening’s North Tonawanda Common Council meeting.
The 25-year-old moved to North Tonawanda in 2012 after a customized house was constructed for him by the non-profit Homes for Troops organization. Schaus lost both his legs and a finger in 2009 to a landmine during his second tour in Afghanistan and amid a battle with insurgents, twice going into cardiac arrest before he being resuscitated.
He spent years of intense therapy to recover from the incident before making the U.S. National Sled Hockey team in 2012, eventually moving on to the Paralympics.
On Tuesday, surrounded by 15 of his relatives and friends, Schaus was presented the key to the city by Mayor Rob Ortt and Alderman Bob Clark for his role as enforcer and team leader, utilizing a gritty style that that helped secure the gold medal in a harrowing and widely-watched final. Ortt also declared March 15 “Paul Schaus Day.”
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by the City of North Tonawanda,” Schaus said. “I appreciate the support.”
Frank Grandinetti, Schaus’s cousin, said following the meeting that after all the challenges his relative has gone through his recent successes make his recovery even better.
“I’m proud of him that he got the key to the city,” he said. “Everything worked out fantastically for him.”
Schaus said since returning from Russia he has continued to work out for a potential run at a second Paralympics, training at the Northtown Center at Amherst. He also noted the popularity of the sport has seen an uptick in recent years leading to more young people trying out for the team.
Ortt said the city will post two signs near its boundaries recognizing the Schaus’s achievements, adding that it’s no small accomplishment that North Tonawanda has a gold medalist leaving within its borders.
“We would have recognized him earlier except he had somewhere else to be,” Ortt said. “He was at the White House.”Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.