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Amy Purdy learned to snowboard at age 15. She learned again at 21. Purdy was forced to relearn the skill after a debilitating disease nearly ended her life. At 19, Purdy contracted a form of bacterial meningitis that spreads quickly and is often fatal. She suffered from severe septic shock and was put into a medically induced coma with less than a two percent chance of survival.
Still just a teenager, Purdy soon lost use of both of her kidneys and her spleen. With her circulatory system badly damaged, doctors were forced to amputate both of Purdy’s legs in order to save her life.
Despite astronomical odds, Purdy persevered, and received a life-saving kidney transplant from her father weeks shy of her 21st birthday. Just a few months after the transplant, and while still learning to walk with her new prosthetic legs, Purdy began to snowboard.
Getting back on the mountain began a 10-year odyssey for Purdy, which culminated in a bronze medal at the Sochi Paralympic Games in 2014. In the interim, Purdy created her own type of prosthetic that would allow her to snowboard, medaled in multiple para-snowboarding competitions around the world, and became a vocal advocate for physically challenged athletes like herself.
Last year Purdy won a Paralympic medal and gained further recognition after a successful and inspiring run on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Purdy was the first double-amputee contestant on the wildly popular show, and fought through a back injury to finish in second place with some of the highest scores in show history. Purdy capped her year by releasing her memoir, “On My Own Two Feet,” an exploration of her harrowing and ultimately inspiring life story.