Be Impressed: This Double Amputee Snowboarder Will Be on Dancing with the Stars
Amy Purdy, legless from the knees down, has an incredibly challenging task ahead of her.
Amy Purdy is already an accomplished athlete. In fact, she’s ranked as the second highest female adaptive snowboarder in the world. But it is no small thing that this double amputee young woman will be competing in Dancing with the Stars this season — and I’m not just saying this because many think ballroom dancing isn’t a real sport (eyebrow raisers, I’m watching you). What this woman is up against on this season of DWTS will not be easy.
But, first, for those of you who don’t know her backstory, let’s review.
Who is this Amy Purdy?
I can’t quite believe the bio I’m about to describe to you, but the joy of it is, this woman is for real.
When she was 19 she contracted a rare case of bacterial meningitis, went on life support within 24 hours and was given a less than 2% chance of survival. After slipping into a three-week coma, she woke to find her legs had been amputated due to loss of circulation.
But what did she do when she got out of the hospital? She picked up where she left off with her newfound passion, snowboarding. Within six months of nearly dying, Purdy was on the slopes again — using prosthetic legs she modified herself with duct tape and wood.
Allow me to pause for a moment while I pick my jaw up off the floor. Great, now let’s continue.
Then, in 2002, after meeting Daniel Gale — the man who would become her business partner, boyfriend and best friend — she and Gale created the nonprofit organization Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) in 2005. This non-profit is the first snowboard-specific organization for amputees seeking outdoor adventure. The focus of the organization? “Creating a space for amputees to come and play,” Purdy explains.
“I lost my legs, I lost my kidneys, I lost my spleen, I lost my hearing in my left ear, but I’ve gained so much more. I’ve gained an amazing life, full of passion and inspiration.” – Amy Purdy
You’re free to fangirl (or fanboy) right about now.
But why should I be impressed that she’ll be on a dance show?
Well, plain and simple, dancing is hard, but I’ll get to that soapbox in a second.
Her first hurdle is that this past week, while she”s been training for the show”s premiere episode, she’s simultaneously been getting ready to compete in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Paralympics starting on March 7th. In short, none of the other DWTS contestants currently have to balance giving an Olympic performance on wintery slopes while training up on their dance routines.
Her spirits seemingly unfazed, she wrote on her Facebook page, “Snowboarder by day dancer by night,” complete with these adorable hashtags: #howexciting #dancingwiththestars #sochitohollywood
Oh, and this adorable photo of her and DWTS partner, Derek Hough (seriously, if you have not seen this man dance, you must. It”s totally cool if he and Kellie Pickler make you cry from that routine — the one starting at 2:25):
So given that she’s an athlete in top shape and has a fantastically talented dance partner/choreographer (with a great track record of training winners, I might add), it”s safe to say she’s got nothing to worry about, right?
Honestly…I’m not so sure. Dancing is different than other sports. We’re talking about some seriously fast footwork here, especially considering the caliber of dancing DWTS has become famous for. There’s also the fact that she’ll be competing against dancing champs like Meryl Davis and Charlie White — 2014 Olympic gold medalists in ice dancing.
But I will say this, if there’s one spirited young woman (who happens to be a double amputee) who can pull off taking home that shiny, shiny Mirror Ball, it’s Amy Purdy.
Just watch her talk about being asked to be on the show:
In short, I would love to see her win. And while I don’t watch every season of DWTS, I”m going to have to make watching season 18 in its entirety a distinct priority, because I just love this:
“I’ve never been good at not doing my best.” – Amy Purdy
You go, Amy. We’ll be watching.
Want to read about another inspiring Olympian? Check out Steven Holcomb’s story — a bobsledder who survived a blinding eye disease, a suicide attempt, and came out the other side of it to inspire hope and win a gold medal.