Beatrice started fencing when she was just five. Today, better known as Bebe, she is an Italian wheelchair fencer, two-time European champion, two-day world champion and a Paralympic champion – a remarkable collection of titles by any standard. But that’s not the only way in which Bebe’s story is unique.
(Photo credit: Augusto Bizzi)
At the age of 11, she suffered severe meningitis, leading to the amputation of both her legs from the knee and both of her arm from the forearms. Thanks to intensive rehabilitation and coaching, and the use of prosthetics, Bebe rediscovered her childhood passion for fencing and, by the time she reached her teens, was competing at the highest level.
Now, Bebe is playing her part in public health by using her high profile to highlight the importance of vaccination. In a video message to the Global Vaccination Summit in Brussels, co-hosted by the European Commission and the WHO, she encouraged others to have the meningitis vaccine. The video was shared widely during the event, helping to bring the message of the Summit to a wide audience.
‘The problem was that I didn’t have the vaccine when I was young… So, what I’m saying now, and what my family is trying to say to everybody, is to have the vaccine,’ she said.’
Italian fencing champion @VioBebe has a message for the #VaccinationSummit19 🇮🇹🤺🏅 #VaccinesWork 🔴The live stream for the Summit is pinned to the top of our page📍Watch now and join the conversation 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/uotuQUDDrh
— EU_Health (@EU_Health) September 12, 2019
Bebe and her family also launched a not-for-profit organisation to support amputees in sport. Art4Sport helps children and young people with prosthetic limbs, helping them to benefit from the positive physical and psychological effects of sport.