Sometimes, when the worst happens, it brings out the best in others. Bonnie St. John, who had her right leg amputated at age five and went on to win an Olympic silver and bronze medal for ski racing, is a testament to that. She is seeking to reach out to victims of the Boston terrorist attack who lost limbs in the explosion.
In an April 18 message posted on her Facebook page, St. John writes, “We’ve been told that the shrapnel flying at low levels caused many bystanders to lose one or both of their legs,” which, she says, she can relate to.
“Of course, being an amputee myself, I would like to do whatever I can to help these people adjust to limb loss and think positively about their identity and future with a disability.”
St. John, the first African American ever to win Olympic or Paralympic medals in ski racing, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria, has been honored by President George W. Bush.
One of her most famous quotes is, “If a one-legged, African-American girl from San Diego with no money and no snow can go to the Olympics as a ski racer… people think to themselves, surely I can follow my dream and find the joy in my life.”
Now St. John is on a mission to help “these folks who have suffered unimaginable trauma in addition to losing one or more legs,” find their joy as they “deal with losing life as they knew it.”
A trained hospital visitor for new amputees, the Christian author and speaker cites research showing the positive impact her efforts to connect with Boston amputees could have on their quality of life.
“Studies say when a new amputee connects with another (trained) amputee early in the process it can dramatically increase their emotional resiliency,” St. John explains.