She Lost Her Legs in the Brussels Bombing. Now, She’s Competing in the Paralympics


When Beatrice de Lavalette was only 17-years-old, she got hit by the terrorist bombing at the Brussels airport.

De Lavalette had serious burns and a spinal cord injury from the tragic incident and also lost both her legs below the knee.

Despite the traumatic situation she was put in, the Paralympian says she wouldn’t be the person she is today if it weren’t for it. She wouldn’t be the person competing for the U.S. Para-Equestrian team in Tokyo.

De Lavalette has always had a passion for riding. She stared at the age of 3, and by 12, de Lavalette took up dressage. However, getting back in the saddle after sustaining her injuries was not an easy task. Yet, it didn’t stop her from going back to what she enjoyed doing most.

“I had no muscle, I was just skin and bones, so being back on the saddle with no sense of balance was really uncomfortable,” de Lavalette told CNN. “But with time, I was able to build up the muscle and work on my balance, and it got easier with time.”

With the encouragement and help from friends, family, and the doctors, she was once again able to ride her horse, DeeDee.

“DeeDee saved my life,” the Paralympian told The Doctors. “My mom had figured out a way to get…DeeDee into the hospital parking lot. I said, ‘Where’s my [wheel]chair?”

What she didn’t expect was to see her horse approaching her, taking away the pain she felt after trying to come to terms with her injuries.



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A post shared by Beatrice De Lavalette (@beatriceldl)


“She came towards me and put her head against my chest. That moment made me decide that I wasn’t going to give up on life.”

For De Lavalette, having to adjust to her new body felt like having to learn to ride all over again. She worked her way to now making her first appearance as part of the U.S. Para-Dressage team in Tokyo, where she will be riding 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood named Clarc.



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A post shared by Beatrice De Lavalette (@beatriceldl)


On the Paralympian’s website, she wrote, “I can’t change what happened, but I can succeed at being me,” she continued. “There are no ‘What ifs.’ I have a new life in front of me.”

“What’s important is that I’m alive and I feel that I will do something grand with my life.”

Watch the video about the U.S. Para-Equestrian story below.


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