Once upon a time, there was a princess. She was blonde and feisty and, like many other children around the world, she was blessed with everything she needed for a healthy life: Two sparkling eyes, a healthy heart, a lovely head (filled with the will to fight), two hands, two arms, two legs and two feet. One day, she fell prey to a sickness that might as well have been a curse sent by a wicked witch. When she woke up, she found that she had lost her hands, arms, feet and legs: Everything had been amputated to save her life.
The princess was only 11 years-old when she had to learn to live without her limbs. She had lost everything that most people take for granted: Two hands, two arms, two feet and two legs. The story goes that as soon as she left the hospital, she pursued physical therapy with enthusiasm and, as soon as her prosthetics were ready, returned to her great love. Her love wasn't a handsome prince (many princesses know how to make do without one), but a sport: Fencing. She picked up the sword with her prosthetic arm, and it was like a magic wand, breaking the spell that had left her with a disability, and replacing it with another.
Bebe Vio has once again lifted herself out of the wheelchair she had transformed into a throne to teach us all a lesson.
That magic spell that made all of this possible was something the princess pulled forth from her heart, her stomach, her brain and her kidneys: From every fiber of her new body. The spell was made of determination, courage and strength. It was so powerful that it carried her to the top of the world and helped her capture the heart of her prince once and for all.
She arrived at the peak of Olympus boasting a wide smile that spread from her lips to her eyes. It was a smile so open and sincere that it could only belong to someone who had traveled to the very edges of hell. As mere mortals who deal only with life's everyday annoyances, we could never produce such a smile. It is the smile of a survivor, of someone left for dead after a shipwreck only to battle through waves and sharks.
The princess in this story (which is certainly no fairy tale) is Bebe Vio. She beamed when she met President Obama, dressed in a stunning Christian Dior gown earlier this month. It is a dress made for a princess and at 19 years old, Bebe has the undisputed right to be happy and enthusiastic.
There is no one in this world who would dare dampen Bebe's joy on such a day. Like anyone who has shaped their own destiny, she is magical and wonderful. There is not a single argument, nor bitter social media post that could interfere with Bebe's happiness upon meeting Obama: There is nothing in the world that could interfere with that. She travelled by plane with Fabio Gianotti and Giorgio Armani, two fantastic people who, if I may be permitted to say so, have got nothing on Bebe.
I love Bebe Vio exactly as she is; she is the type of girl you could leave in rags on the edge of the forest and she would come out moments later dressed in a ball gown. She is someone who always pulls through, no matter what. It would be worth taking the time to learn to clone her. She would not let the Great Wall of China itself stand in her way; she would simply examine it for a moment then start to climb. With her significant physical disabilities and mental capabilities, she has faced many setbacks, but in the end, she scaled Olympus.
Bebe Vio has once again lifted herself out of the wheelchair she had transformed into a throne to teach us all a lesson.Bebe has shown people who have all their arms, legs, hands and feet, yet sometimes become discouraged because their goals seem too difficult, as well as people who like her, are differently abled, that it is not your body that matters, but your heart and mind.
This is a magic spell that any of us can cast, with a good dose of courage, two pinches of stubbornness, and plenty of big smiles.
Best of luck Bebe Vio!
This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.