Exciting evening at the Institute of Culture, thanks to the presence of Giusy Versace who opened the Italy Run in Central Park last Saturday.
Interviewed by the Director of the Institute, Fabio Finotti, and greeted by Fabrizio di Michele, Consul General in New York, Giusy Versace thrilled and moved the audience that crowded the halls of the Institute.
Thanks to her we understood that sport is not just sport.
From sportswoman Giusy becomes an athlete just when life seems to tell her that transformation is impossible. A terrible car accident and an old guard-rail took off her legs, yet just then the metamorphosis took place.
Just then. When the decision is whether to look back, in pity forever, die inside, or look forward. Sport becomes an instrument of rebirth. Sport gave Giusy a new life, new goals, new stimuli, inspiring a different vision of handicap, experienced and witnessed in person.
Perhaps the presence of his father at the event accentuated the emotion in Giusy’s voice. Or perhaps it is part of her splendid energy that she takes things head-on, always putting her heart next to her brain, as the title of the book that tells her story reads and that yesterday many people asked her to sign: “With head and heart you go everywhere. The story of my new life”(Milan, Mondadori).
“They told me to let it go. They told me that I was no longer a teenager and that I could not expect to become a sportswoman. They told me I was “shaking my butt” too much to have artificial legs …”.
Since then Versace has passed the selections for the London Paralympics in 2012, won a European record in Turin, set an Italian record in 2016 and participated into the 400 Meters Final at the Rio Paralympics. In all, she has won 11 titles in Italy where she still holds the 60m indoor record for her category.
Not satisfied with competitive sport, she ventured into that complicated intersection between art and athletics that is dance. And she didn’t just participate in Dancing with the Stars in 2014, she won the competition.
“When I entered Dancing with the Stars I was worried – she said. – I knew that I would be in the spotlight even more than in my sporting experience. But that was what I wanted. Not only to prove to myself, but to show to everyone who have an handicap like me, that life tells us not to stop. Life is calling us, and to face it we need to raise, not lower the bar “.
From there, Giusy’s commitment was also born both in politic and in the social sphere with her “Disabili no Limits” Association.
An artificial limb – she explained – can cost thousands of euros. Not everyone can afford it, and not even the National Health Service often can afford it. Everything that I am able to collect with my non-profit organization. it is used to give those who are less fortunate than me the opportunity to get back on the move, to be autonomous. It can be a leg, an arm, sometimes a wheelchair. All that helps to make disabled people independent gives their dignity back ”.
We understand, it is not a question of giving help only to the disabled. It is a way of giving help even those who are not disabled or do not know they are disabled (after all, we are all disabled in one way or another). Giusy with her life, her words, her battles, her races and her adventures, has managed to change not only the lives of many disabled people, but the perception that the world has of them.
“I remember – she said – when I used to go to the beach years ago. I took a bath, went back to the beach. And I had to take off my legs to empty them of the water. Many around me murmured poor thing … what a misfortune! Now many say “Have you seen? Is Giusy Versace!” They see me, not my handicap”.
People, this is what’s at the center of Giusy’s world. People. Each with his/her handicap, each with his/hermiracle.
In short, a record-breaking evening. In which we understood that sometimes life takes away a lot to give even more.