Home » Leonardo paralyzed at 24, Mattarella award is an anthem of freedom – Italian hospitals

Leonardo paralyzed at 24, Mattarella award is an anthem of freedom – Italian hospitals

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Leonardo paralyzed at 24, Mattarella award is an anthem of freedom – Italian hospitals

(by Thierry Pronesti) “A recognition that gives me honor and honors me, but which I must also honour. It is an additional responsibility to continue. To try not only to make my story known. But to draw from it ideas that can be also useful to those who, fortunately, do not have to face what I am facing. And who perhaps, in daily difficulties, can find help from something I can say or do”. Leonardo Lotto, a 25-year-old from Aosta, has been confined to a wheelchair for a year. His life changed after an accident at sea in Australia. From that day on he continued to fight: he managed to complete his exams and graduated from an excellent business school. The title of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is linked precisely to the speech given in December in a large London hall, during the 2023 ‘graduation ceremony’ of the Cems, master in International management.


The Head of State, Sergio Mattarella, awarded him the honor “for having, with a message, recounted his necessary change of life and the importance of the value of freedom and of those who fought to guarantee it”. Those words had bounced from social media to the Italian media. “They arrived straight and – Leonardo tells ANSA – they arrived precisely because of what I wanted to say. I had many people around who helped me and pushed me to do more and more. I try to give something, but I also receive a lot”.


“Today – he remembers – a year has passed since my accident and two have passed since the invasion of Ukraine. My speech spoke about freedom and those who fight to achieve it. So I think there is nothing more significant than these three things happen on the same date: it is truly a hymn, a hymn to freedom”. For him it is “a wonderful recognition. And then that President Mattarella appreciated and recognized my words is simply wonderful”. A few days ago, the phone call from the Quirinale: “My mother immediately handed me the phone, it was a bolt from the blue, but a beautiful bolt of lightning.”


Now Leonardo looks to the future: “I’m just back from an operation that knocked me out a bit. The recovery was much longer and more tiring than I could have expected. I’m still thinking a bit day by day, but I’m starting to also extend the horizon a little. I try to understand where I can place myself, what I can do, what my aspiration could be”.

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