Lilo is a world-champion and 5-time paralympic athlete with a story to tell. A story of triumph over adversity, hers is a journey through a life filled with personal challenge, tragedy, courage and overwhelming optimism and success. Combined with an incredible zest for life, her living example encourages young and old to reevaluate their lives and expand the boundaries of their limitations. Hers is a story of achievement, success and personal greatness.
Lilo was a blind athlete who successfully and very proudly represented Canada in national team handball for the blind (Goalball) and athletics since 1984. It was her expertise in the events of discus and shot put that took her on a meteoric ride to the top of the international rankings for athletes with a disability. Throughout her long and successful athletic career of two decades she has earned many medals and continues to hold world record titles. Included among these honors, Lilo has recorded an amazing 19 international podium finishes. She has been named Paralympic and World Champion no less than four times having brought home to Canada 6 Paralympic medals.
Although Lilo chose to redirect her energy and time away from competitive sport in 2005, her passion for sport and effecting positive change for athletes of the world has only increased her involvement exponentially. She commits freely of her time and energy by giving back to the international world of sport through her many capacities and roles. Since 2000 she was a member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes Council and its first female chair 2002 – 2009. In addition to serving the Paralympic athletes of the world as their chosen chair Lilo also served as a Governing Board member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission for the past 8 years. Her passion for sport and its power to effect change in the lives of athletes with or without disabilities continues to be a driving force and clear motive in the desire to facilitate others to
realize their fullest potential in the arena of athletic endeavor.
Born in Yugoslavia as a healthy, sighted child in the early 60’s, it was a bout with a common childhood illness at 16 months of age and, its misdiagnosis that changed the course of her life forever. The ensuing 25 years saw Lilo’s sight deteriorate one painful step at a time, resulting in a complete loss of sight in 1990. Then the ride began… with the tumultuous roller coaster of five corneal transplants in an attempt to regain her vision… and the resulting devastating failure. Although Lilo has not regained her sight, she continues to visualize her goals and clearly sees the challenges she has set for herself in life’s arena. She continues to strive in every aspect of her life towards achieving her dreams and of personal excellence.
Along with her athletic achievements, Lilo maintains time for other pursuits and has nearly
completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has been a trail blazer in creating opportunities for the advocacy of athletes’ rights and needs in Canada by beginning her career as a national athletes representative for the Canadian Blind Sports Association. Lilo’s enduring volunteer commitments extend to the 10 years she served as an elected board member of Athletes Canada, a member of 2010 Legacies now in addition to her 3-term board membership with the Canadian Association for the advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.
Her trail-blazing ways and indomitable spirit have resulted in her being recognized for the continued impact and change she has created in her path. Most recently awarded as the 2007 recipient of the “Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Athlete Award”, recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 for 2007, presented the Isabel Ferrer prize in 2004 by the European commission, named to Canada’s Top 20 most influential women in Sport 2003-2007) and honored in 2005 with the Athletes CAN Leadership Award.
Given her vast and impacting experience in the arena of life, Lilo has been called upon to share her story with audiences around the globe. Since 1992 Lilo has delivered over 1,000 keynote presentations to consistent standing ovations.
Lilo shares a gripping vision of independence with her audiences, encouraging people to not only see with their eyes… but with their hearts. She helps others determine what can help them be the best they can be by sharing her stories and personal experiences. Her journey is a celebration of our differences and diversity and an illustration that with the right vision life’s greatest challenges present no barriers. Truly… a “NO LIMITS” mind set.