Being different and overcoming obstacles sometimes brings out the very best in us. I tell Jordan and Cameron that often when we face tough stuff in life. We can choose to let it make us sad, or we can find the good in the bad and keep living a positive life. I know those words may be tough to believe at times. But that’s how I take each day. And then others prove it for me.
Let’s take Amy Purdy.
Photo courtesy Adaptive Action Sports
I learned about Amy because she’s the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports. She’s a rock star snowboarder who earned a bronze during the Winter Paralympics in Sochi earlier this year. Right after she won that medal, she headed back to the states to compete in the ABC show, Dancing with the Stars. Oh, did I mention she lost the lower portion of both of her legs and her kidney function when she contracted bacterial meningitis as a 19-year-old?
She fought back from that illness and found ways to return to life… Not only just living but finding positive opportunities after some really terrible struggles. It is truly inspirational to see how one person found ways to take her life’s passions and is giving back to the world by finding some very public arenas to prove life’s challenges can’t stop anyone from trying their best.
She proved that point during this week’s Dancing with the Stars. (The contemporary dance she did in honor of her dad made me bawl.) She broke me when the video shared before her performance showed just how difficult it was to dance the waltz.
More and more people are noticing. ABC’s Nightline did a really wonderful interview with Amy
this week. Her positive focus shines through when she talks about losing her lower legs.
“I’ve never looked at myself as if I’ve lost anything,” Purdy said. “If anything, I’ve gained.”
She gained a chance to work with amazing athletes, dancers and if you follow her Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter, these opportunities are giving her a chance to meet some really remarkable people. Her dancing and snowboarding prove the power of positive thinking and very hard work can make a difference.
Purdy mentioned in the Nightline piece, “If I can accomplish grace on these legs, then I’m already a winner.”
I really think she has not only won, but she’s help bring even more open eyes to limb differences and showing the only thing that is impossible is impossibility. (Yes, it’s a quote from Phineas and Ferb… We say it all the time in our house.) Not all amputees can find this level of success. But it is possible to maintain a positive focus and do our very best.
By the way, if you’re impressed by Amy, consider donating to Adaptive Action Sports. It is an awesome organization that helps people with physical disabilities the chance to join in on skateboarding, snowboarding and other action sports you’ve probably seen in the X-Games.
[Also, if you missed it, Hugh Herr showed off the future of bionics and helped a victim of the Boston Bombings ballroom dance for the first time. The video is pretty remarkable and made me think how Amy could have benefitted from the technology.]