A double amputee wore a dress for the first time on her wedding day – after a lifetime of hiding her old prosthetics was over thanks to state-of-the-art new legs.
Katarina Floridia, 27, from Ashland, Massachusetts, had always been embarrassed about her situation, refusing to wear a dress and covering her legs even on sweltering hot beach days or trips away with friends and family.
But thanks to her new legs – which were overseen by A Step Ahead Prosthetics to match her skin color and accommodate heels – Katarina was able to make her dream come true by walking down the aisle in confidence with her father on her arm.
In an emotional moment ahead of the June 8 wedding – and which Katarina shared on her wedding day to help tell her story – the double amputee tried on A Step Ahead’s prosthetics for the very first time.
She was brought to tears as she tried on the specially designed prosthetics, revealing they immediately gave her the confidence to show off her legs and walk down the aisle in front of those dearest to her.
Katarina said: “It made me a beautiful bride that I have always hoped and dreamt of being – I was a princess bride that could finally see her toes.
“Walking down the aisle in my dress was the most emotionally moment of my life.
“I felt that my self-esteem and self-confidence returned after it being damaged my whole life – I never felt so beautiful, confident or strong.
“My father was discharged from two weeks in hospital the day before my wedding, and I just remember looking over to him as we waited for our cue to walk and said, ‘we made it – I love you.’
“There was not a dry eye when walking down the aisle in my dress because everyone could see how happy I was and that I finally believed in the person that I really am.”
With the prosthetics featuring ProSystem SkinTones Systems’ silicone covers, which had been custom made to match her skin tone and anatomy, Katarina looked in the mirror and soon broke down in tears.
Lauren Piccolino, facility directed at A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Burlington, Massachusetts, said: “Watching Katarina’s reaction when she saw herself in the mirror for the first time was one of my most beloved and proudest moments working for A Step Ahead Prosthetics.
“In that moment, she didn’t see herself any longer as an amputee who was worried about what society thought of her.
“She was confident and elegant in her dress – I saw for the first time since meeting Katarina as a strong, confident women who was so incredibly proud of who she was and no longer had to hide her limb difference.
“Her genuine excitement, gratitude, and disbelief that her skin covers could look so real made this experience at our facility incredibly exceptional.
“It makes our jobs even more special than they already are.”
Katarina, a congenital bilateral amputee, has dealt with prosthetics her whole life, having been adopted from Moscow, Russia, when she was 18 months old, and moving to the United States.
When she was born, her bands formed in the amniotic fluid, restricting the growth of her legs.
Over the years, Katarina said, she has had a difficult relationship with prosthetics – from having the confidence to wear previous models out in public, to experiencing the cost of healthcare related to her condition.
She decided that was going to change on her wedding day – and through the support of her husband, Andrew Pfeffer, 28, and the team at A Step Ahead Prosthetics, she was able to achieve that, selecting everything from skin tone to the kind of veining she would like on her feet.
Many people – even friends and family – had not known what Katarina had experienced emotionally while wearing prosthetics her whole life, and so when she gathered the confidence to explain her situation before her wedding day, she was greeted with hugs, kisses and many tears.
Going forward, Katarina hopes that her story will help to inspire others who may be in a similar situation, believing they are not accepted in society for who they are.
She added: “I hope anyone else in the world that may be trying to hide something that may make them different, whether it is having prosthesis or something else, to know that you are not alone.
“The world can be cruel and what I want people to take away from my story is that it is important to be happy, proud of whom they are and accept themselves.
“The important part is to believe in yourself, which took me 27 years to do.
“I spent 27 years being scared if society would accept me, but when I finally accepted myself, the day of my wedding and walked down the aisle, I was proud of who I am and was humbled to know that those around me, loved me for who I am.”
For more on A Step Ahead visit their website: www.weareastepahead.com
(Story courtesy of T&T Creative Media)