image by: Teampurdy
A lot of times, people think 'para' as far as 'paralyzed.' 'Para' means 'alongside,' so the Paralympics are alongside the Olympics on the same courses, the same hills - Amy Purdy
Although the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony may have just ended, there’s another group of athletes waiting to compete for a gold medal and bragging rights. In just a few short days, prepare to have your mind blown as 670 athletes from all over the world descend on South Korea once again to participate in the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games
The Paralympics started in 1948 as a way to help the large numbers of servicemen who returned from war with spinal injuries. The idea caught on quickly and soon athletes from around the world wanted to participate. Today, the Paralympics isn’t limited to those with spinal injuries. In fact, many athletes are amputees or paraplegics; some are blind, deaf, or both; and others have spina bifida or muscular dystrophy. These athletes will compete in many of the same events as the Winter Olympics - snowboarding, skiing, ice hockey, curling, etc.
The chances of qualifying for the Olympics are near impossible as it is. So, can you imagine what it takes to ski down a mountain totally blind? Or to snowboard with a prosthetic leg? Think about what it takes to be a Curler in a wheelchair. Or for a paraplegic to play hockey in a hockey sled. That is what I mean about “mind blown”. I’d be lucky if I could stand upright on ice for 30 seconds...
All of the Paralympic athletes have incredible stories and I highly recommend that you read them. Some are sad, some tragic, some funny, yet they’re also full of hope and determination. One athlete in particular, American snowboarder Amy Purdy, has a story that is inspiring to say the least. And one that would probably destroy most people if they had to go through what she did.
Purdy was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and had a pretty typical childhood. She loved art, she loved dancing, but what she really, really loved was snowboarding. This, however is where the “typical” ends. When Purdy was 19 she contracted bacterial meningitis. Within 24 hours of her diagnosis she went into septic shock and was given less than a 2% chance of survival.
Sepsis wreaked havoc on her body, specifically her circulatory system, which led to multiple organ failure. As a result, both kidneys and her spleen had to be removed and a short time later she had both legs amputated just below the knees. After so much trauma and anguish, Purdy’s father learned that his kidney was a perfect match, so just before her 21st birthday, her father donated one to her. And despite the odds, she recovered.
Purdy said that once she realized she would survive, she set goals for herself. She said, “When I was wheeled into surgery, I made three goals 1) To never feel sorry for myself 2) To snowboard that year and, 3) To help others.” She emerged from surgery with a battered body and a fierce, determined spirit.
A few months after her kidney transplant, she was able to cross one of those goals off her list. Purdy was fitted with her first pair of prosthetic legs which allowed her to start snowboarding again. And three short months later she finished third in a snowboarding competition on Mammoth Mountain. This win changed her life forever as she was awarded a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). The grant allowed her to amp up her training and compete in other snowboarding competitions.
To date, Purdy is the top ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S.; a three-time World Cup Para-Snowboard winner; she won the gold for Para-Snowboard Cross in 2011 at the New Zealand Winter Games; and the bronze in Para-Snowboard Cross at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. After Sochi, Purdy thought she’d take a break, so she competed on The Amazing Race and Dancing With the Stars. She was a finalist in both...
Oh yeah, she did The Amazing Race and Dancing With the Stars while training to qualify for the 2018 Paralympic Games, which she did. Of course.
Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.
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