Amy Purdy, the inspirational Paralympian medal winner who competed on “Dancing with the Stars and finished in 2nd place, spoke to Examiner.com on May 22 for an exclusive interview. During our enlightening phone conversation, Amy answered ten questions about her experiences on “DWTS,” her partner Derek Hough, and what’s next now that the competition has come to a close.
In 1997, Amy Purdy was a normal teenager with goals to graduate high school, travel around the world snowboarding, and make money as a massage therapist. Her plans changed dramatically when Amy contracted a form of bacterial meningitis at the age of 19. Doctors gave her a slim two percent chance of living. However, her ordeal ended with life, not death. Amy was forced to face that life without legs, both amputated above the knee.
In an extreme case of turning lemons into lemonade, Amy decided to propel her life forward. After recovering, she wanted to return to snowboarding, so she searched high and low to find the perfect prosthetic legs. When she was unable to do so, Amy simply designed them herself. Soon after, she and boyfriend Daniel Gale created Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit that helps disabled youth participate in sports like snowboarding and skateboarding.
When faced with a fork in the road, Amy bravely chose the route that inspires people and allows her to maximize life. “I wanted to give back and help others since I got so much help along the way,” Amy explained. “It’s so rewarding to see the faces of people trying things they never thought they would do again or trying something they didn’t think they could do at all."
Amy Purdy won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games. While competing in Russia, she met her “DWTS” partner, Derek Hough, for the first time. In fact, Purdy was competing and practicing for “DWTS” at the same time, which was no small feat. As posted by USA Today, Amy spent the mornings riding a snowboard and learning dance moves at night. Derek and Amy eventually made their way back to Los Angeles to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.” During our interview, Amy spoke about her experiences on the show by answering the following ten burning questions.
1. Why did you want to do “DWTS” in the first place?
Amy explained that she had watched and liked the show, but was not a super fan. Seeing that she loved music and enjoyed dancing with her friends, she thought “DWTS” would be a good fit. “I wanted to challenge myself,” she stated.
2. What was your reaction when you learned Derek Hough would be your partner?
As the only 5-time "DWTS" champion, Derek Hough is one of the show’s most beloved and talented professional dancers. When Amy learned that he would be her partner, she was excited. “I was paired with the best in the world,” she said during our interview. She also added lightheartedly, “He’s so adorable!” In his last TV Guide blog post of the season, Hough praised his partner on May 21 by writing, “I definitely felt like this season brought something new and different and significant to my life. I feel like this season with Amy was truly a fulfilling experience that transcended the whole competition element of it.” That partnership and mutual respect came through loud and clear all season long.
3. In five words, how would you describe the grueling “DWTS” workouts and training sessions?
After several seconds of pondering the question, Amy responded, “Challenging, frustrating, empowering, exhausting, and exhilarating.” She added that competing on “DWTS” was a mixed bag of emotions, but that it was a challenge that she’ll never forget. “It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
4. Did you form a bond with any of the other celebrities?
Amy explained that she was unable to socialize with any of the other competitors at first because she was in Russia. When she returned to the US, Amy hung out with Candace, Danica and James, with whom she even shared a dance. However, Amy liked everyone and said honestly, “We all really enjoyed each other.”
5. Who was your favorite judge on "DWTS"?
This year, guest judges like Robin Roberts, Ricky Martin, Abby Lee Miller and Kenny Ortega stepped in to raise their paddles and help rate the routines. Amy Purdy said that she loved them all, but that Bruno Tonioli was her favorite. “I loved his energy, passion and spontaneity,” she stated. She added that Derek was not a fan of Abby Lee Miller, but that he handled her stint on “DWTS” well.
6. What was your favorite dance?
Amy answered that she actually had two favorite dances. The first was the Argentine Tango, which she had to perform after her first injury. The second was her finale dance that fused together the Tango and Cha Cha. “I knew we could do something very cool with that dance,” she stated. With only 24 hours to prepare, the fusion dance was both challenging and rewarding for Amy.
7. What was your lowest moment on “DWTS”?
The Olympic athlete was actually injured twice during this season of “Dancing with the Stars.” As posted by Eonline, her first was a shoulder injury that required a trip to the hospital. She said during our interview that her second injury was her lowest point. “I was in so much pain and we still hadn’t completed our routines,” she explained. At one point, Derek thought she might have to pull out of the competition. When asked how she managed to not only dance in the finale, but also pull out a 2nd place win, Amy replied, “I made it through day by day.”
8. What was your most memorable moment on the show?
Amy answered quickly and said that the finale was her high point. She was able to overcome the pain and was proud of her final performances. “We went from potentially being out of the competition to performing really well,” she explained. “At the end, my body felt great.” To see Amy Derek’s freestyle, be sure to check out the video above.
9. Now that “DWTS” is over, what’s next?
After the physical endurance needed for the Paralympics and “DWTS,” Amy wants to focus on her more creative side for a while (and who could blame her?). Plans for the remainder of 2014 include writing a book, speaking at engagements, and launching a line of clothing called Live, Learn, Grow with Element Eden. Amy is also a Team Toyota athlete. Throughout the years, Toyota has proudly been a part of Amy’s journey. “They supplied a vehicle for me and to Adaptive Action Sports,” she stated. “I would not be able to get anywhere without them.” According to MarketWatch on May 22, Amy’s Adaptive Action Sports and Toyota have expanded their relationship. This recent development will allow AAS to host 10 competitive para-snowboard events for wounded veterans by the end of 2015. Amy is also a powerful motivational speaker. Her must-see TED talk about her struggles has been viewed more than 625,000 times on the Internet. To see it, head to YouTube.
10. What advice would you give others who are facing obstacles or challenges?
Always hoping to inspire others in their own personal journeys, Amy replied, “If you are driven to do something, do it. It’s amazing what you can overcome.”
So, Amy’s journey on “Dancing with the Stars” is over, but her future looks brighter than ever. There’s simply no stopping this powerhouse person who has a heart as big as an ocean and a spirit of determination and dedication that has inspired a nation of fans.
For recent photos of Amy Purdy, be sure to check out the slideshow above.