Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
EU chief turns to Paralympian Vio to inspire Europe's youth
0 Comments
AP

EU chief turns to Paralympian Vio to inspire Europe's youth

  • Updated
  • 0

BRUSSELS (AP) — When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was at a loss for words Wednesday to capture the soul of the European Union and its future, Bebe Vio was there to help the EU's top official at the end of her State of the Union address.

Sitting anonymously among the European legislators for most of the hour-long speech, which is a highlight on the EU calendar, the Italian Paralympic fencer suddenly became the center of attention when von der Leyen called her the guest of honor of the proceedings.

“Trying to find the right words to capture the essence,” von der Leyen said, “is not easy. But it is easier when you borrow them from someone who inspires you."

More than just winning gold and silver medals in the women's foil at the Paralympics, it was Vio's road to get to this year's games that inspired von der Leyen. The wheelchair fencer contracted meningitis as a child and to save her life, doctors amputated both her forearms and both her legs at the knees.

It was far from the end of her struggles before she reached the Tokyo Paralympics, where she again proved she could fence at the highest level without hands or feet. Because of it, von der Leyen said she turned into “a gold medalist from Italy who captured my heart this summer.”

"But what you might not know, is that only in April, she was told her life was in peril. She went through surgery, she fought back, she recovered. And only 119 days after she left the hospital, she won Paralympic gold," she said.

Fighting unlikely odds, von der Leyen said, “is the spirit of Europe’s next generation. So let’s be inspired by Bebe and by all the young people who change our perception of the possible.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

0 Comments

Locations

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House offered Wednesday to connect Nicki Minaj with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to address her questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, after the Trinidadian-born rapper’s erroneous tweet alleging the vaccine causes impotence went viral.

  • Updated

Pennsylvania residents who are unvaccinated against the coronavirus were far more likely to contract COVID-19, become hospitalized and die than those who got the shot, health officials said Tuesday in the first public release of data on so-called “breakthrough" infections in the state.

  • Updated

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An email signed by the leader of a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin sent to county clerks on Monday raised security concerns about its authenticity and what measures would be taken to protect sensitive information requested.

  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — A declassified FBI document related to logistical support given to two of the Saudi hijackers in the run-up to the Sept. 11 attacks details contacts the men had with Saudi associates in the United States but does not provide proof that senior kingdom officials were complicit in the plot.

  • Updated

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — More than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling, with the millions of motorists who don't use E-ZPass having a nearly 1 in 2 chance of riding without paying under the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News

Crime

Politics