Amy Purdy is the top-ranked female adaptive snowboarder in the U.S., a three-time World Cup Para-Snowboard Gold Medalist, the 2014 Paralympic Bronze Medalist, and the founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit organization which helps disabled youth, young adults, and wounded veterans get involved with action sports. She is also a Dancing With the Stars Finalist, actress, and fashion designer.
Before all of this, at the age of 19, after experiencing flu-like symptoms, Purdy, 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. She was ultimately diagnosed 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. After going through this life-altering experience, Purdy challenged herself to move on with her life and attain goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve.
In her poignant and uplifting memoir, On My Own Two Feet (William Morrow), Purdy reveals the story of how losing her legs led her to find a spiritual path. In a near-death experience, she saw three figures who told her: “You can come with us, or you can stay. No matter what happens in your life, it’s all going to make sense in the end.” In that moment, Purdy chose to live.
Her glimpse of the afterlife, coupled with a mysterious premonition she’d had a month before, became the defining experiences that put Purdy’s life on a new trajectory after her legs had to be amputated. She wouldn’t just beat meningitis and walk again; she would go on to create a life filled with bold adventures, big dreams, and boundless vitality, and share that spirit with the world. Purdy’s journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity we all have to dream bigger, defy expectations, and rewrite our stories. She was given a second chance for a reason-to use her life to inspire others. Her powerful memoir urges us to live life to the fullest, because we are all a lot more capable than we could ever imagine.
Purdy 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. Purdy’s TED x Orange Coast talk, “Living Beyond Limits” is the number one recommended video by TED x OC to incoming TED speakers formulating their own presentations.
Her 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 CBS’s The Amazing Race. In May of 2013, Purdy was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the top 15 most marketable para-athletes in the world.
Although Purdy has numerous accomplishments, she is most proud of co-founding Adaptive Action Sports. Created in 2005, AAS is a non-profit organization that helps those with permanent disabilities 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. Purdy also had the opportunity to share her remarkable story alongside Oprah Winfrey, as part of Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour.
Purdy currently resides in Denver, Colorado.
Praise for Amy Purdy:
“Amy Purdy is far more than an Olympic champion. She is a pioneer and a beacon of strength. Her honest and sharply written memoir leaves me feeling as uplifted as I do when I spend time in her presence. She brings the same passion, courage and open-heartedness to these pages that she brings to each day she navigates the world—one carbon-fiber and steel foot at a time.”
- Elizabeth Gilbert