Business Advice From A Winter Games Champion: Paralympics Hero Bonnie St. John

Cheryl Conner

“What you do when everything goes right doesn’t tell me who you are. It’s what you do after disaster that shows your character most.” – Medalist, Rhodes Scholar and Businesswoman Bonnie St. John

As Olympic Fever deepens in the days leading up to the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, a champion from Winter Games past caught my eye: Bonnie St. John.  St. John made her initial mark as a champion in the 1984 Paralympics as the second-fastest female amputee skier in the world and the world’s first African-American ski medalist.

St John lost her right leg at age 5, due to a rare condition that stunted its growth. Her reaction to placing second in her 1984 race is famous enough to have found its way onto Starbucks Cups in the company’s 2006 “The Way I See It” campaign: “I was ahead in the slalom, but in the second run, everyone fell on a dangerous spot. I was beaten by a woman who got up faster than I did. I learned that people fall down, winners get up, and gold medal winners just get up faster.”

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