How do you define the word disability? According to Webster’s Dictionary: a condition (such as an illness or an injury) that damages or limits a person's physical or mental abilities; the condition of being unable to do things in the normal way: the condition of being disabled
What do you SEE when you see a person in a wheelchair or with prosthetics? Do you consider them disabled because of a physical disability? Or, do you see a person with gifts and talents?
For Amy Purdy, the word disabled is not a negative in her life; it provides encouragement to exceed all her expectations to become a role model for EVERYONE.
Purdy lost both of her legs at 19 to meningitis and went on to become a world champion in adaptive snowboarding and competed at the recent Paralympics for Team USA. Amy M. Purdy is an American actress, snowboarder, co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports and spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. And, she is a strong competitor on Dancing with the Stars with partner Derek Hough.
At age 19, Purdy contracted Neisseria meningitis, a form of bacterial meningitis. The disease affected her circulatory system when the infection went into septic shock, and both of her legs had to be amputated below the knee, she lost both kidneys, and her spleen had to be removed. Sepsis is when an infection (any infection) causes an inflammatory response, leading to organ failure and/or clinical shock, and is a common cause of death.
In Amy's case, as with bacterial meningitis, she went into septic shock in less than 24 hours of getting sick. Doctors gave Amy only a 2% chance to survive since her sepsis was so advanced. Two years later, she received a kidney transplant from her father. Her friends now refer to her by the nickname Lucky.
Disabled does not mean unable – her physical achievements are proof:
Purdy began snowboarding seven months after she received her leg prosthetics. About a year after her legs were amputated, she finished third in a snowboarding competition at Mammoth Mountain. Subsequently, she received a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a non-profit organization. Through this grant, she was able to compete in several snowboarding competitions in the U.S.
- She has gone on to co-found her own non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA for individuals with physical disabilities who want to get involved in action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing) or art and music.
- In 2003, Purdy was recruited by the CAF as spokesperson, and she moved to San Diego to be closer to the CAF headquarters. In San Diego, she continued her pre-amputee profession as a massage therapist. She also became involved in the modeling and acting industry. In February 2003, she played a model in a Madonna music video.Later in 2003, Purdy started working for Freedom Innovations, a prosthetic feet manufacturer, as Amputee Advocate.
- In 2005, Purdy made her film debut in What's Buggin Seth, a movie by Eli Steele. In May 2011, Amy was also featured in a well-regarded TED video entitled "Living Beyond Limits."
- In 2012, Purdy and her partner Daniel Gale participated on the 21st season of The Amazing Race. They were the second team eliminated and finished in 10th place out of 11 teams.
- 2014 – Dancing with the Stars with partner Derek Hough: “For somebody to take the chance and be courageous enough to do a show like this, it’s just really inspiring to me,” Hough wrote on his blog. “I could tell without even meeting her that she didn’t see herself as disabled.”
Amy is a survivor and her achievements are amazing. Not only has she excelled with her physical achievements, but also with her positive outlook on life. Her words of encouragement are inspirational to ALL:
- "When disease took my legs, I eventually realized I didn't need them to lead a full, empowering life."
- “One true disability is in our minds.”
- “My dad gave me one of his kidneys,” she said. “I always say that my dad gave me life twice. He brought me into this world, and then through his gift he kept me in this world.“
- And I thought if I can dance I can walk. And if I can walk I can snowboard. I can live a great life.”
When you look at Amy, what do you see? A women with a disability or a women who has achieved, and exceeded, her goals. EVERYONE can take a lesson from Amy.
Disabled does not mean UNABLE!
Did you find this article informative? Receive email alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the Subscribe button above.