A freelance blogger named Elizabeth Eckhart sent us a guest blog on Amy Purdy!! Amy’s personal story is compelling to say the least as many of us have commented and as Elizabeth told us privately when she reached out to us, “I think she’s a pretty impressive role model for anyone”. That she is! More below in this touching piece…
Amy Purdy, one of the most promising new contestants on Dancing with the Stars and the shows first double amputee, lost her legs when she was 19 after a near deadly bout of bacterial meningitis. To say she hasn’t let that stop her is an understatement. In fact, Amy’s challenges may have been what fueled her, giving her the motivation to compete not only as a pro-snowboarder, but also to participate in The Amazing Race, purse acting and modeling, create a non-profit, and now, of course compete on Dancing with the Stars!
Amy’s story is truly one to be awed by. As a young girl, she first started boarding at 14, and immediately became obsessed with the sport. Amy told Nightline, “I tried snowboarding at 14 and I absolutely fell in love with it. “I snowboarded every day off I had, every weekend I had off of school, every holiday we had off from school, and it became a huge part of my life, not just what I love to do, but really just kind of who I was.”
One can only imagine then, the horror that followed at age 19, when out of the blue Amy contracted meningitis. She recalls waking up only feeling weak, but within 24 hours found herself in the hospital on full life support. Meningitis attacks the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord through the bloodstream, so even before Amy’s legs were amputated, doctors had to first fix her lungs, both of which had collapsed. “If somebody would’ve told me that I was going to lose my legs at the age of 19, I would’ve thought there’s absolutely no way I’d be able to handle that,” said Amy. “But then it happened and I realized that there’s so much more to live for, that my life isn’t about my legs.”
After the amputations she wanted to get immediately back into boarding, but discovered that as of yet there were no prosthetics that worked with a snowboard. Her doctor and her decided to put their heads together in order to create an entirely new foot that would work on the board. A year after her amputation, she was back on the competitive circuit. Today, Purdy is a world champion with three World Cup gold medals in adaptive snowboarding and just won a bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi.
By 2005, though, Purdy was ready to do more than just get herself back on the board, and decided to co-found the non-profit company Adaptive Action Sports with boyfriend Daniel Gale. Her goal was to offer fellow physically-challenged people an opportunity to learn or relearn how to snowboard the same way she had. Amy’s purpose wasn’t only to garner attention for the sport of adaptive snowboarding, but also to aid in the recovery process for those who lost limbs. Regarding the non-profit, Amy says “They see that we’re not just able-bodied saying ‘it’s going to be okay’… they see that it’s going to be okay.”
Amy not only created a non-profit, she also spreads her motivational word by publicly speaking for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and her highly-acclaimed TED talk focuses on the idea that the only factor stopping individuals from accomplishing something is their own mental block.
— PaleoFX (@PaleoFX) February 18, 2014
Many have pointed out that in regards to DWTS, Amy has little to no disadvantage. She’s a pro on her prosthetics, and is an athlete in tip-top shape to boot! As she showed viewers last week, she’s not one to be overlooked after she landed a score of 24 out of 30, and brought the studio audience to their feet. According to Twitterverse data crunched by the social media analysis tool Viral Heat, there is a high chance Purdy’s fans will take her to the end, even. An impressive 82% of tweets about Amy include positive support for her in the contest, and even Time.com is pulling for the snowboarder:
@TIME great performance, great effort. Congratulations Amy.
— R. Mera (@Rzoeny) March 18, 2014
I, for one, would love to see such a positive role model make it to the end!