written by: Vanessa Conabee
“The bottom line is we’re all people first.”
In 2012, Anna Beninati, a college freshman studying music therapy at Colorado State University, lost both her legs in a train-hopping accident with friends. Since then, the Utah native has become an athlete, training with the National Ability Center with the hope of competing in the Paralympic Winter Games March 9-18 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
After her accident, Beninati spent a few months soul-searching at home before she was ready to make a change. “There was one day when it occurred to me that I had two options. I could let what happened rule me, or I could move on.” Beninati started mono-skiing in an adaptive program at Snowbird, catching on so quickly she was soon training with Paralympic Gold Medalist Stephanie Victor at the National Ability Center—a gold-level U.S. paralympic sport club that provides the training, tools and skill development necessary to consistently place NAC athletes on podiums around the world.
“It’s a freedom to come down the mountain in a monoski—I’m addicted to the adrenaline of it and that rush when you go down to the starting gate,” Beninati explains. “Programs like the NAC give limitless freedom to people with disabilities. It’s incredible to see the change in people when they get involved in a sport like this, especially after an injury like mine.”
Beninati uses her natural affinity for public speaking to help normalize the human experience of disability. “It was a very reckless thing I did,” Beninati acknowledges of the train-hopping incident. “If I can further the message of trusting your instincts and prevent one person from doing what I did, then it’s a success. Everyone has challenges; everyone makes mistakes. Mine are really, really obvious—my mistakes and my challenges.”
See more inside our 2018 Mar/Apr Issue.