The Full Story
Lera was born in Saratov, Russia with a congenital condition called Arthrogryposis of the lower extremities. Her birth parents chose to give up their parental rights in hopes that she may be adopted by a foreign family who could provide the medical care she needed.
She came to the U.S. when she was adopted at 21 months old, and began receiving medical and surgical care. Lera grew up using forearm crutches and KAFOs all her life. As she grew, KAFOs became more and more difficult to wear and she was facing a life in a wheelchair as she grew. After a suggestion by her orthopedic surgeon, Lera began thinking about elective amputation. At age 14, she chose to have an elective surgery to have bilateral knee disarticulation and became a double amputee. She has not looked back since. No more sitting on the sidelines. Her 'impossible' had become possible.
Lera is an active 18 year old who enjoys many sports including paranordic ski & biathlon, sled hockey, handcycling, adaptive surfing, wheelchair lacrosse and sit volley ball. As she grew up wearing orthotics, she was not able to play sports as she wished due to fragile lower extremities. Now that she is able, she will 'try anything at least once'.
Lera was chosen as the 2019 "21st duck' by the NHL Anaheim Ducks which is an honor given to an individual who embodies perseverance, character and courage. She was also named to the USA Women's National Development Sled Hockey Team and plays for San Diego Ducks Sled Hockey team.
She spends her time in Montana during the winter months to train and compete in paranordic ski & biathlon with Crosscut Elite Team USA. Lera represented Team USA in Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic games and she was ecstatic to be able to race with the world's best. Lera lives in California with her family rest of the year and trains and competes in multiple sports as an adaptive athlete. She has received enormous support and recognition from the adaptive sports community and organizations like CAF, MoveUnited, Hanger Clinic, BladeTech, The Hartford, Anaheim Ducks Foundation and Team Toyota.
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Team USA-2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic