At 15 years of age, Amy Purdy took up snowboarding and quickly advanced in the sport she came to love and master.
At 19, Amy contracted meningococcal meningitis. She had less than a 2 percent chance of living.
Amy miraculously survived, but not without the life-altering loss of her spleen, her kidneys, the hearing in her left ear and both of her legs below the knee because of the ravage of the disease upon her circulatory system.
But against all the odds, Amy learned not only to walk again but also to snowboard. In fact, she became a world champion! Last Friday, at the age of 34, Amy won a bronze medal in the Paralympics, and she wants to share with us her secrets for success and overcoming life's greatest obstacles.
How'd she do it? A lot of willpower, a lot of determination, perseverance and, according to Amy, "essentially customizing off-the-shelf prosthetic components to try to get them to move the way we need them to for snowboarding."
Amy explained to HuffPost Healthy Living: "When I lost my legs, (I didn't say), 'Am I going to snowboard again?' My question was, 'How am I going to snowboard again?'"
As anyone can imagine, getting up on a snowboard with prosthetic legs -- let alone mastering the sport -- is a herculean feat. But Amy was up for the challenge -- one that would confront her deepest barriers of human potential and bring unexpected and repeated challenges.
Compensating for the loss of limbs would be difficult in most typical life practices, but hers also entailed scaling the mountains of Olympic competition. Amy explained: "Being a double leg amputee, I burn up to 60 percent more calories than the average person. We're using different muscles and compensating. I have to eat a lot, and to be honest, it's really difficult."
Even coming into the few years before the 2014 Paralympics, Amy's successes didn't come easy. According to the United States Olympic Committee's website, she didn't medal in two consecutive World Cup races on her home course at Colorado's Copper Mountain. However, she did go on to win a silver and a bronze at the next World Cup, which was at Canada's Big White. Prior to the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Amy was ranked second in the world, behind her teammate and national champion Heidi Jo Duce.
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