Beatrice ‘ Vio is more commonly known as ‘Bebe’. A physically-challenged Olympic Gold Medalist, she has always had a passion for fencing. Her dreams, however, were almost shattered when, at the age of eleven, she contracted a particularly virulent strain of meningitis. The survival rate for this strain is a low four percent. She managed to pull through but developed necrosis. Both her arms and legs were amputated in order to save her life.
Ultimately, Beatrice Vio spent three and a half months in hospital, recovering from both her illness and the amputations that followed. But this was not the end of her ordeal. More operations followed. She had to undergo plastic surgery and a succession of skin transplants in order to seal the wounds on both arms and legs.
Going back to school was a challenge. But Beatrice Vio managed. She had also not given up on her dream. She learned to live with her artificial limbs, learned to walk again, and hold objects. She also started to fence again by means of a special attachment encompassing a foil. Her aim now was to compete at Paralympic level.
In 2012, Beatrice Vio won a gold medal in fencing at the Italian Championship. This was followed by a silver at the World Championships in the under-17 category. From there, she went on to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She came home with a gold.
An accomplished author, Beatrice Vio, in her book ‘Mi hanno regalato un sogno’, says that “I am a lucky woman! I am doing just fine with my four pairs of legs, my Robocop hands, and the marks on my scarred face. I would no longer recognise myself without them.”
Her success as a sportswoman has seen her named Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability at the 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards.
Besides her sport and writing, Beatrice Vio is the co-founder of ‘art4sport’. This organisation supports child amputees by means of sport as therapy. Besides speaking her native Italian, Beatrice Vio also has an excellent grasp of English. She is also an advocate for vaccine awareness with regards to meningitis.
As a speaker, Beatrice Vio does not allow her handicap to define her. Instead, she has defined her handicap, not allowing it to get in the way of her ambitions. Her talks are about the courage, strength and determination necessary to make it to the top in a competitive field.
For several years Beatrice has participated in motivational events and conventions with Italian and international companies. These include Vodafone Italia, Tim, Barilla, Crai, Fincantieri, Volvo Penta, Audi, FCA (Fiat), Toyota, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan, Boston Consulting Group, Allianz, Generali, Banca Mediolanum, Repubblica, Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, Celgene, Adecco, Wella, L’Oreal Paris, Lancome, Mc Donald’s, Nespresso, Nike Europe, Poste Italiane, Unilever, Nestle, Campari, Cartier, Discovery Channel, Sorgenia, Anas and many others.