Paralympic long jump world record holder Stef Reid is braving the ice in ITV’s hit show, but it hasn’t all been glitz and glamour for the sportsperson who lost her leg in a boating accident at the age of 15
The glitz and glamour of Dancing on Ice is back and it brings with it a fresh crop of brave celebrities willing to risk bones and chilblains to impress the judges. Among this year’s cohort is talented GB Paralympian and Christian Stef Reid, who devastatingly lost her leg following a boating accident at the age of 15.
Stef has openly spoken about her fear following the accident and said that she reached out to God in prayer in her darkest hour.
She said: ‘I remember lying in the ambulance after the accident and feeling scared because I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to heaven. I did not know God. I remember praying for a second chance and I committed my life to God in the ambulance.’
As a youngster Stef had dreamed of playing professional rugby but was no longer able to.
I remember praying for a second chance and I committed my life to God in the ambulance.
She said: ‘It was a complete miracle that I survived the accident but I was devastated at the prospect of not being able to do sport. I said: “God why would you give me an ability and then take it away and let it be a waste?”. But he revealed to me that he put my drive for competition in me for a reason and I just needed to apply it in a different way.’
For Stef that meant pushing herself to achieve great things.
She said: ‘This meant aiming for the Paralympics and going to university to study biochemistry. It was a trip to Nepal that made me incredibly thankful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had that helped me achieve my goals.’
During her stint in Nepal, Stef became Vice-President of The Leprosy Mission. It was there that she spent time with people affected by leprosy, many of which, like her, have a lifelong disability. In her new capacity as Vice-President, she is spearheading The Leprosy Mission’s Greater Heights campaign which launches on World Leprosy Day 2022 on Sunday, 30 January. Greater Heights seeks to end leprosy in our lifetime by rebuilding a crumbling lab at Anandaban where a team of researchers are making scientific breakthroughs that have a global impact.
Stef said: ‘Because of my life experience I am passionate both about scientific research and the need to speed up medical discoveries. Many of the patients I met were amputees because their leprosy was treated too late. When they saw that I too was an amputee, there was an instant connection. Overriding any language barrier was an understanding that we had experienced similar pain. I have been blessed with opportunity and this is what I want for each and every person affected by leprosy and disability.’
Many of the patients I met were amputees because their leprosy was treated too late. When they saw that I too was an amputee, there was an instant connection.
Stef met her husband Brent Lakatos, a Paralympic wheelchair racer, through Parasport. Like Stef, Brent suffered a serious accident as a youngster that left him paralysed. In Brent’s case it was an ice skating accident. But despite ice skating changing the course of Brent’s life, he was at the rink side last night proudly cheering on Stef.
She said: ‘Everything in life can be dangerous and I would never want to live constantly worried about the worst thing that can happen. When I told Brent I was doing Dancing with Ice he said “Stefanie, you are nuts”. But that has nothing to do with Dancing on Ice, he just thinks I’m nuts in general!’
She added: ‘Dancing On Ice is the most fun I’ve ever had and yet probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Dancing or doing anything on ice is the last thing you’d expect an amputee to do. But as a long jumper I am gifted at falling. The coaches are always concerned about me landing and I keep having to tell them I’m not made of glass! I have a special prosthetic for skating but it was really hard at the beginning as I’ve never skated before so I didn’t know what I needed or wanted from my new leg.’
To donate or find out more visit leprosymission.org.uk