When she lost both of her legs to bacterial meningitis in 1999 at the age of 19, Amy Purdy thought she would never snowboard again. Everyday she dreamed about the sport she loved and began a mission to figure out a way to do it again – the type of feet which would work, the necessary types of sockets, how to keep the legs attached. Then 2 years later – kidney failure and she had to have a kidney transplant, but her passion for snowboarding never left her. She challenged herself to move on with her life and not only regain some sense of normalcy, but also attain goals that even people who have both legs struggle to achieve. Three months after her transplant, Amy attended the 2001 USA Snowboard Association national competition in California where she met some adaptive snowboarders just as passionate about the sport as she was. She knew she did not have to give up her participation in action sports.
“Never let defeat, defeat you!”
She has become a world class adaptive snowboarder recently winning a spot on the US Paralympic Snowboard Team and is currently training for the chance to compete in the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Amy recently held the title as the highest ranked female adaptive snowboarder in the world after winning 3 back to back world cup gold medals.
Determined to help others enjoy adaptive action sports, Amy and her boyfriend Daniel Gale started a non-profit organization called Adaptive Action Sports which creates skateboard, snowboard and other action sport camps, events and programs for teens, kids, adults and wounded veterans living with permanent physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some of AAS’s most significant accomplishments to date include: Adaptive Snowboard SBX race at the ESPN Winter X Games, Adaptive Snocross Race in the ESPN Winter X Games, the development of The Adaptive Moto X Race and Adaptive Skatepark Jam in the ESPN Summer X Games, the development and organization of the first Adaptive Snowboarding World Championships. AAS also successfully developed and trained an elite team of Para-Snowboarders in 2013 most of whom made the US Paralympic Snowboard Team.
With the help of a grant from the Challenged Athletes Association, Amy was able to participate in several snowboarding competitions and was asked to become a spokesperson for them. Moving to California to be closer to the CAF headquarters, Amy became involved in acting and modeling.
In addition to her sports activities and fund-raising for Adaptive Action Sports, Amy is also a motivational speaker. She has received standing ovations for her powerful, riveting storytelling. In 2012 her “Living Beyond Limits” talk went viral bringing opportunities for Amy to speak around the world.
Amy’s “Living Beyond Limits” talk on TED.COM .
In her “spare” time aside from sports and motivational speaking, Amy models and raises awareness for Adaptive Action Sports. Her inspirational posters have been popular in schools, offices and medical facilities! Funds raised will go to support Adaptive Action Sport programs. She also is an advocate for Element Skateboards.
Amy and Dan’s adventures continued in the spring of 2012 when they participated in CBS’s The Amazing Race tv show. It aired on CBS in September 2012 .
Amy Purdy – athlete, motivational speaker, model, actress – inspiration
To donate to Adaptive Action Sports click here
Check out “We Adapt” – an interview series on Adaptive Action Sports blog