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Mari was born the youngest of a family of 6 in rural Paraná, in the southern part of Brazil. Her family was poor and, in her early childhood, along with everyone else in the family, she worked picking cotton cutting sugar cane in the fields.
She had a normal childhood until age 14, when was involved in a motorcycle accident, which caused the amputation of her left leg above the knee. All dreams and aspirations of a typical girl that age were suddenly shaken and seemed put in jeopardy. However, she was not abated by that life-turning event, and soon afterwards began a process of redefining and reinventing herself.
Sports initially played a role in her rehabilitation process and re-establishing her self-image and adaptation to a new body. It wasn’t until a few years later (after she got married and had children), however, that sports really became central to her life. In her late 20’s Mari started competing in athletics, and quickly stood out as a gifted athlete, winning a number of local contests and setting national records in athletics (javelin throw and long

In 2012 and 2013 she gained much visibility as the first woman to complete major foot races (15 and 21 km) in Brazil on crutches. In 2013 She was invited to join Time São Paulo, a group of elite disabled athletes that were prepared to compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She competed in Rio as part of the national adapted sailing delegation, and was later that year nominated the top Brazilian athlete in disabled sailing. Mari’s accomplishments are not limited to sports, however. She is a successful motivational speaker, and her audiences span a variety of groups, such as universities, corporations and the respected TED circuit.

She has also worked as a fashion model, on the catwalk for local stylists and on advertising campaigns for clothing / apparel companies in Brazil. Her recent participation in Big Brother Brasil 2017 (BBB17), a widely viewed reality show in the country, has turned her into a local celebrity, and served as a linchpin to drive the message home to millions of people, that one can lead a happy, successful and fulfilled life in spite of physical disability.
Soon after her participation in BBB17, Rede Globo, the network that airs the program invited her to a sensual photo shoot (Paparazzo). Copies of the photos are attached to this bio.
In people’s minds, a disabled person and a beautiful woman by definition dot not fit together, and often fall in boxes that are diametrically opposed. Very often, the sight of Mari graciously strutting around on a high heel, walking down the catwalk, posing for a photo session or deftly running a half marathon on crutches shakes people out of this preconception, as they are forced to reconcile these two hitherto impossible features in one person.
She drives that message home more directly on speaking engagements, such as the recent TEDx São Paulo in March last year. Her message: “Don’t let other people tell you what you can or cannot do! Believe in your dreams and go after them wholeheartedly, you won’t believe what amazing things can happen!”