Amy Purdy has been through hardships that most of us will never face — or can even fathom. But what makes her story so incredible is how she has persevered, taking implausible challenges and rising above them.
At 19, after experiencing flu-like symptoms, Amy was rushed to the hospital in a state of septic shock. En route, she experienced respiratory and multiple organ failure which caused her to lose circulation to her extremities. When she entered into the hospital she was given less than a 2% chance of survival, put on life support and placed into a coma. After multiple blood transfusions, and the removal of her ruptured spleen, doctors diagnosed Amy with Meningococcal Meningitis, a vaccine preventable bacterial infection. Due to the lack of circulation she had suffered doctors had to amputate her legs below the knee. She later received a donated kidney from her father a week before her 21st birthday.
After going through this life-altering experience, Amy challenged herself to move on with her life and attain goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve. Just three months after her kidney transplant, Amy entered the USASA National Snowboarding Championship where she won medals in three events. Today, she is one of the top ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world, has won multiple World Cup medals and appears poised to be on the podium at the upcoming 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. She is the only double leg amputee competing at the world-class level.
Amy’s creativity, positive outlook and her never give up attitude have opened doors to many other opportunities including being featured in a Madonna music video, a lead actress role in an award winning independent film and multiple creative modeling projects including a photo shoot with musician and artist Nikki Sixx where her legs were custom made from steel to look like ice picks.
Amy has evolved into a powerful inspirational and motivational speaker who has literally been seen by millions of people and invited to share her story to audiences around the world.
Amy’s story and images have been featured in numerous national and international publications, and in 2012 she and her longtime boyfriend, Daniel Gale, raced around the world on The Amazing Race.
In May of 2013 Amy was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the top 15 most marketable Para-athletes in the world.
Although Amy has numerous accomplishments, she is most proud of co-founding Adaptive Action Sports. Created in 2005, AAS is a non-profit organization, which helps those with permanent disabilities to get involved in action sports. AAS has partnered with ESPN and runs “adaptive” action sport competitions at the summer and winter ESPN X Games. These events were instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games.
In Sochi, Amy added yet another remarkable accomplishment to her ever growing list, earning the bronze medal in the inaugural snowboarding competition in Paralympic history. She jumped off the podium and onto a plane bound for Hollywood, where three days later she debuted on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.