THE BLOG
11/20/2013 07:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Grit Was My Only Choice

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

My life has not turned out as expected; it has been even more amazing.

As a 19-year-old I was a massage therapist and snowboarding was my absolute passion. I had dreams of traveling the world and living a life full of adventure and then suddenly my life took a detour. I came home from work one day with what I thought was the flu and less than 24 hours later I was on life support and was given less than a two percent chance of living. It wasn't until days later while I lay in a coma, that doctors diagnosed me with bacterial meningitis. Over the course of two and a half months I ended up losing my spleen, my kidney function, the hearing in my left ear and both legs below the knee.

When my parents wheeled me out of the hospital, I felt that I had been pieced back together. I thought the worst was over, until weeks later when I saw my new legs for the first time. With my mom by my side, and tears streaming down both our faces, I strapped on my legs and I stood up. They were so painful all I could think of -- was how am I ever going to travel the world in these things? How was I ever going to live the life full of adventure that I always wanted? And how was I going to snowboard again?

That day I went home I crawled into bed, physically and emotionally drained I knew that in order to move forward, I had no choice but to let go of the old Amy and learn to embrace the new Amy. That's when I began to daydream. I imagined myself walking gracefully, somehow helping other people through my journey, and snowboarding again. I was so weak that It was challenging to do even the simplest of tasks even making myself breakfast was a challenge. I learned that this was more than a new chapter in my life; it was a great start to an amazing life story.

Just a few months after getting my new legs I was back up on a snowboard! In no time I went from walking to snowboarding to competing in World Cups where I eventually became the highest ranked female adaptive snowboarder in the World. Today, as the second highest ranked female snowboarder in the world and first in the U.S., I am now competing to win a spot at the 2014 Paralympic Games, where I get to not only represent my sport but my country and the amazing sponsors like Kellogg's that have helped me get to where I am today.

amy purdy

To tell you the truth, traveling the world, snowboarding and living the life of my dreams makes me forget at times just how unique my situation and legs are. I put on my legs the way most people put on their glasses, I get up and go! And as challenging as things have been at times I can say with full conviction that I would never want to take back the life that I was given. I may have lost the legs that I was born with but these legs with carbon fiber and steel, these legs have taken me to amazing places!

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