Valerio Catoia was born with Down syndrome. At the age of three, his parents decided to force him to swim to develop his strength and endurance. As a result, Valerio not only learned to swim, he succeeded. He competed in the Olympics.
One day, Valerio was relaxing with her father and younger sister on a beach in Lazio, Italy.
They were enjoying a peaceful day by the sea when suddenly they heard a cry for help. Two girls, aged 10 and 14, were trapped and could not reach the beach. There were waves that day, and the current was taking the children deeper and deeper. When Valerio and his father realized what was happening, they both jumped into the water to save the children.
The father caught the 14-year-old girl and Valerio, 10. Valerio, who trained and competed in the Olympics all his life, knew he had to keep the girl’s head out of the water to prevent her from drowning. When Valerio and her father brought her back to shore, the rescuers were already on their way.
Of course, such an act could not have gone unnoticed.
The Italian Minister of Sports then awarded him a medal for his courage, daring and sportsmanship. Her parents are proud of Valerio’s courage, but they are also a source of inspiration for all people born with disabilities.