STORYCORPS SHORT PIECES

Bonnie St. John and her husband Allen Haines smile for a photo
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Bonnie St. John and her husband, Allen Haines, discuss Bonnie's journey from becoming a Paralympic skier to a successful professional career.

A quick conversation: Bonnie St. John and Allen Haines

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It was one fall during high school that a friend invited Bonnie St. John to go on a family ski trip. St. John was excited about the opportunity, but was apprehensive at the same time. Her right leg had been amputated at age 5 because of a birth defect and she had never been skiing. She also lacked the proper equipment for a one-legged skier and in the late 1970s, that equipment was not easy to find.

Listen: “Skiing was so good for my identity and sense of self.”

St. John, though, showed remarkable perseverance. She located equipment and went on that ski trip. She worked hard to improve as a skier, traveled to the national ski championships for people with disability and then attended a Vermont prep school that specialized in developing world-class skiers.

A few years later, St. John earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team and competed at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games, winning one silver medal and two bronze.



Following her skiing career, St. John graduated from Harvard University, became a Rhodes Scholar and worked in the White House National Economic Council under President Clinton. She then began a career as a public speaker started her own leadership company.

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