At age 19, after experiencing flu-like symptoms, Amy 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 the hospital she was given less than a 2% chance of survival, put on life support, and placed into a coma. After fighting for her life, multiple blood transfusions and the removal of her ruptured spleen, doctors diagnosed Amy with Meningococcal Meningitis, a highly deadly bacterial blood infection. Due to septic shock, doctors had to amputate her legs below the knee and a week before her 21st birthday Amy’s father donated a kidney to her making history as the first laparoscopic kidney transplant in the state of Nevada.
After going through this life-altering experience, Amy challenged herself to move forward with her life and attain goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve. As an avid snowboarder, Amy’s main goal was to get back on the slopes. Just three months after her kidney transplant, and with plenty of duct tape and bolts, she built her first pair of snowboard feet and entered the USASA National Snowboarding Championship, where she won medals in three events.
But she didn’t stop there.
In 2005, she founded Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) with her future husband Daniel Gale. This organization opened doors for individuals with physical disabilities, enabling them to participate in action sports, mainly snowboarding. Thanks to AAS’s efforts, snowboarding was included in the 2014 Paralympic Games, with Amy herself making history by winning the inaugural bronze medal for Team USA.
Her success continued, and at the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea, Amy added more medals to her collection – a bronze and a silver, making her, at the time, the most decorated Paralympic snowboarder in Team USA’s history.
But her accomplishments weren’t confined to the slopes.
Days after she stepped off the Paralympic podium, she stepped onto the dance floor as the first Paralympic to compete on the TV show Dancing With the Stars. With her partner Derek Hough, they went all the way to the finals coming in runner-up and inspiring millions worldwide, breaking boundaries and showcasing the power of creativity and the human spirit.
Amy has evolved into a powerful internationally-recognized motivational speaker. She travels around the globe speaking, frequently as the first woman to keynote for many brands. Amy speaks to leading corporations and organizations like Disney, Berkshire Hathaway, the World Health Organization, Toyota, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, SAP, and Dell.
Her incredible journey has been recognized and celebrated by none other than the iconic Oprah Winfrey, who featured her on Super Soul Sunday and named her one of her 100 thought leaders. Amy and her athletic abilities were even showcased in a Super Bowl commercial, solidifying her place as an inspiration to millions worldwide. Most recently Amy was Inaugurated into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.
Beyond her personal achievements, Amy is a dedicated advocate for sports and its positive impact on society. She has collaborated with the International Olympic Committee, promoting sustainability, inclusion, peacebuilding, and gender equality, particularly among young leaders. Recently, she attended the World Health Organization Global Summit, where she championed the role of sports in international development and peace. Amy’s first memoir, On My Own Two Feet, endorsed by well-known figures such as Deepak Chopra and Elizabeth Gilbert, quickly became a New York Times Bestseller and has been published around the world in ten different languages.
World Class Athlete
A true trailblazer, Amy’s journey has never been conventional.
Growing up in Las Vegas amongst a family of skiers, Amy fell in love with snowboarding at the age of 15 and knew it was something she would do for the rest of her life, so much so that when she lost her legs below knees at the age of 19 she was back up on a snowboard that very season after creating and building a pair of her own snowboard feet to snowboard on ( those feet are currently on display at in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.)
Amy and her organization were pinnacle in getting snowboarding accepted into the 2014 Paralympic Games for the very first time where she went on to become the face of the sport winning 3 Paralympic medals making her at the time one of the top ranked Paralympic snowboarders in the world.
Retired in 2021 from competitive snowboarding Amy continues to share her love and legacy in the sport by helping other people with disabilities excel at snowboarding through her organization Adaptive Action Sports.
After years of training to reach the Paralympic Games and fulfill her snowboarding dream, Amy journeyed to Sochi, Russia in March of 2014. While there, and getting ready to compete on the world’s biggest stage, she was secretly training for her life’s next big adventure. Snowboarding by day, Amy was dancing by night, preparing for her debut on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars with pro-dancer Derek Hough, who had flown to Russia to squeeze in any practice time Amy could spare. Three days after winning a bronze medal at the Paralympic Games, Amy was on the ballroom floor in Hollywood where she delivered a stunning performance on the show’s opening night. Inspiring the judges, fellow competitors, the professional dance staff and millions of fans, Amy delivered one remarkable performance after another over the next ten weeks and was eventually the season’s runner-up.