She was Austria’s great hope for a pole-vaulting medal. Then she broke her fifth cervical vertebra during training. Since then, Kira Grünberg has been wheelchair-bound. But that doesn’t keep her from fighting for self-determination. For herself and for people with handicaps.


Accepts her fate and looks to the future: Kira Grünberg.

On 30 July 2015, Kira Grünberg’s life changed in an instant. During a training jump she landed on the box rather than the mat — from a height of four metres. She was rushed to the hospital and operated on for two hours. Then came the diagnosis: paraplegia. Since then, Kira Grünberg has been wheelchair-bound. 

But the Austrian did not succumb to despair. Rather, she took her fate into her own hands and looked to the future. “At first it was a real struggle to ask for help all the time. It wasn’t fun, because I really couldn’t do much of anything for myself”, says Grünberg, now 25. To this day she still requires plenty of assistance, and yet she feels like she leads a self-determined life. “Self-determination means to me that I can determine what happens to me and what is done with me.” 

After the accident Grünberg knew that she wanted to work for people with handicaps. She is politically active and now sits in the Austrian parliament. In her inaugural address in 2017, she said: “The differently abled must be given a fair chance to truly show what they are capable of. Every person has the right to a self-determined life.” That’s what Kira Grünberg advocates.

Video portrait series

“Self-determined life”

In 2018, Swiss Life is devoting a portrait series to twelve people in whose lives self-determination plays an important part. The twelve people are selected from proposals submitted by Swiss Life Group employees. Self-determination – that is the essence of our business at Swiss Life. The course of people’s individual lives takes some twists and turns. However, when it comes to financial security and covering risks, needs and demands are largely in harmony. With our offers and solutions, we support people in living self-determined lives. That has been the basis of our success for the past 160 years – and it underpins our corporate future.

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