about Foundation spokesperson: Stephani Victor
Stephani Victor Talks About Upcoming Plans for the Foundation
“I didn’t want to die,” Paralympic medalist Stephani Victor said after her accident at age 26. “I asked one of the paramedics if he would hold my hand. I felt his wedding ring and asked, ‘So how long have you been married?’ I remember thinking that was important to me. I wanted to be married and have a family someday. I asked my mom, ‘Are my legs gone?’ And she said, ‘Yes, baby, they are.'”
Stephani Victor would start a new journey that day, the day she was crushed between two vehicles and dragged 15 feet in a horrible freak accident, the day that doctors would have to amputate both her legs above her knees to save her life. Despite the severe loss, she would go on to become a Paralympic skier, winning gold in the Slalom at the 2006 Paralympics, the Overall World Cup title in 2007, three World Champion Gold Medals and one Silver Medal in Korea in 2009, and two silver medals in Giant Slalom and Slalom—as well as the gold in the Super Combined—in 2010 in Vancouver.
“The strongest muscles in my body are in my neck,” Stephani says, “because it takes a lot of guts to hold your head up and still embrace who you are, and know that who you are as a person is what you’re made of on the inside. Sometimes that looks a little different on the outside, and you’ve got to be tough to keep it together.”
In addition to her skiing achievements, Stephani now works as a motivational speaker. Her life story has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, and she has been a guest on The View, and E! News, among others, helping those with physical challenges to realize their true strengths, while fighting to change public attitudes and perceptions about disability.
“I just want to let people know that when you work hard, listen to your heart, and have faith—and you allow yourself to make mistakes, but you get up and do it again—you can make your dreams come true,” says Stephani.
Stephani, a former client of Eric and Roopal’s, has been close friends with them for years, and she shares their vision for encouraging accomplishment through the Chaffin Luhana Foundation.
“Stephani never slows down,” Eric says. “Roopal and I said to each other, when we achieve the level of success where we’re able to do philanthropic good with the money we’ve been fortunate enough to earn, we’d like to do good with people like Stephani. She sets a stellar example of how we should all conduct and handle ourselves under difficult circumstances and in everyday life.”
Stephani serves as a spokesperson for the Chaffin Luhana Foundation, and through her work with the Foundation, she seeks to give back to the community where she grew up. “I witnessed from a very early age what it takes to work hard and sustain yourself,” she says, “and I share the values that Roopal and Eric have—that when you come from a humble beginning, you never lose your connection to that. There’s a lot of good to be done, and I’m excited to be working with the Chaffin Luhana Foundation to make it happen.”
Stephanie has also volunteered on the Council for Disability Awareness, and given moving presentations to prison inmates, inner city schools, and fundraising events for multiple non-profit organizations, including Spirit Awakening Foundation and Shane’s Inspiration. She has also been chosen by the United States Olympic Committee to serve as an Athlete Ambassador for Team for Tomorrow to spread the Olympic ideals of peace, goodwill, tolerance, and harmony.
“People ask me if I would like to have my legs back,” Stephani says. “Yes! I would love to go for a run or dance or stand up in the shower. But I wouldn’t take my legs back if that meant trading what I have, and what I’ve learned through all of this. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
Excited about their future endeavors together, Eric notes that he’s had challenges in his own life, through which Stephani’s encouraging words have provided a guiding example of resilience and encouragement. “Stephani has inspired me and my law firm in many ways,” Eric says. “We are thrilled to have her as a spokesperson for the Foundation, and we want to honor her legacy for what she represents.”