Paralympian Amy Purdy: When you have almost nothing, focus on what you have

February 10, 2015
Photo: Paralympian Amy Purdy speaks with Ryan Warner
Amy Purdy, a double amputee, world class snowboarder and finalist on "Dancing With The Stars," speaks with Ryan Warner at the Tattered Cover on Colfax Avenue in Denver on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015.

Purdy recounted to the standing-room-only-crowd the story of her sudden bout with meningitis at 19. The illness caused her kidneys to fail and her spleen to burst -- and she had both legs amputated below the knee. She read a riveting passage from her book describing her first attempt at snowboarding with two prosthetic legs -- and the legs, attached to the snowboard, went plummeting down the mountain, 30 feet away from her. Still, she pursued her sport -- and went on to found a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities, including wounded veterans, to get involved with snowboarding, motocross, and other action sports.

If Purdy’s story seems too good to be true, she assured Warner that she, too, has bad days. After seeing the clunky, inelegant prosthetics she’d need to wear for the first time, she said, “I went to bed and didn’t get up for, oh, 24 hours.” But, she says, she shook that attitude quickly. Purdy attributes her success at “checking things off of my big bucket list” to her continual focus on what she does have -- family, friends, and a return to good health -- rather than what she’s lost.

Colorado Matters will air the interview, along with questions from the audience, this month. To listen to other Colorado Matters at the Tattered interviews with authors, click here.

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