We met paralympic athlete, author and super-inspirational person, Amy Purdy, at Book Revue in Huntington recently. She wrote the book, "On My Own Two Feet."
Did you come up with the idea of writing "On My Own Two Feet"?
I did. I wanted to write this book so you guys know I lost both of my legs from something called bacterial meningitis when I was 19 years old. And after that I wanted to write this book, but then I thought I wanted to live more life. I wanted to live a life of adventure, I wanted more stories to put into the book and so I did that. So, the last 10 years, I've been living a really exciting life and challenging myself and doing all types of things. Once I did DWTS ["Dancing With the Stars"]. I thought it was the perfect time to write this book.
How did it feel to step up on your snowboard after you got your new legs?
It felt really weird because I didn't know what to expect. I was used to my legs bending and moving the way normal legs do, but then all of a sudden I was in these metal legs and I remember I started trying to snowboard, I kind of caught an edge and hit this little bump and my goggles went one way and my gloves went the other way and my legs, still attached to my snowboard, went flying down the mountain and I was still sitting on top of the mountain and I heard this lady on the chairlift scream because that's the last thing you want to see is somebody break into pieces on the run. But, of course, she didn't know I had prosthetic legs.
Did you have to learn to snowboard all over again when your legs were amputated?
I did because it was completely different. My legs didn't move the way I needed them to. So I ended up having to make my own legs because there weren't any feet that were made for snowboarding that moved in the way I needed them to. So I ended up putting a bunch of random pieces together, I used a lot of wood and a lot of duct tape, neon pink duct tape, and I was able to make my feet so that I could snowboard in them.
Do you get uncomfortable when people look at your prosthetic legs?
At first I did get uncomfortable when people looked at my prosthetic legs because I wasn't used to people looking at me. I wasn't used to people looking at me differently and I also didn't want people to feel sorry for me because I didn't feel sorry for myself. But then I started to realize that the things that make us different, the things that make us unique, that's what makes us who we are and that's actually what makes us beautiful.
What was your inspiration to get back on your snowboard?
It was just loving snowboarding. I loved being outside and I loved being in the snow and I loved to smell the trees and it was so relaxing to me. It was also so much fun because all of my friends snowboarded.
Can you describe the feeling you had when you won the gold at the Paralympic Games?
Well I didn't win the gold. I won what I call the Dirty Gold, which is a bronze medal, so it's not quite a gold medal, but it was just as exciting because I worked so hard to go to the Paralympic Games, and so many people supported me.
Did you ever imagine that something that once made you sad can make you happy?
Oh. I like that question! When I lost my legs I never could have imagined that I would be where I am today, but I also in a way didn't doubt it, because I felt like I'm still the same person, I still have the same dreams, I still have the same goals, but I think it's pretty neat that sometimes our biggest challenges or biggest obstacles teach us the most and make us who we are today. So for me I'm very grateful that I went through what I did. Otherwise, I wouldn't be where I'm at today.
Were you nervous going on "DWTS"?
I was very nervous going on to "DWTS" because I had no idea if I was going to be able to do it or not. I had no idea if my legs would move in the way that I needed them to move. And I remember watching the show and seeing all the dancers move so fast and I thought there's no way I'm going to be able to do that, but the thing that's cool is every single week we managed to find a way.
Can you change shoes or do you have to change your entire leg?
It depends. So yes, I can change my shoes, but sometimes it's a little bit difficult because my feet are made from rubber and a lot of times the inside of our shoes are kind of like rubber, so it sticks. So what I end up doing is, say I wear a pair of boots I'll end up wearing those boots for like a week because I don't want to take my shoes off. So even if I'm walking around in a swim suit, I'll have knee-high boots on and it looks really funny. I get made fun of a lot.
Do you have a special bond with your dad because he gave you one of his kidneys?
I do have a special bond with my dad. I feel like I always did, I always loved my dad, but once he gave me one of his kidneys and that was so I could survive, it made us that much closer, and it made me so grateful to have his love.