Snowboarder Amy Purdy’s journey from meningitis to a paralympic medal and beyond

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<p>(Photo: CPR/Sadie Babits)</p>
<p>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.</p>

Amy Purdy was a kid when she fell in love with snowboarding. Then, at the age of 19, she got a severe meningitis infection. She lost her legs in a double amputation that helped save her life. Now 35, the woman who calls Frisco home has led a remarkable life.

She re-learned how to snowboard and eventually won a bronze medal in the 2014 Sochi winter paralympics. She made the finals on "Dancing With the Stars" and delivered a memorable TED Talk. She's founded Adaptive Action Sports, speaking out about meningitis, and written an inspirational memoir.

She spoke about her life as part of CPR's Colorado Matters at the Tattered series. To hear the candid conversation, click on the audio link above. Below are some edited highlights from the evening.

On her near death experience:

"I saw a light. Not the bright light that people describe seeing at the end of the tunnel. For me it was a hazy green light. It was just enough of a light to see these three silhouettes standing in front of it.

I couldn't make out who they were to recognize them but, I could make out that they had enough a of a human form, and they had hands and they were saying that you could come with us or you can stay and I remember getting so frustrated with every bit of energy in my body just [going] back and saying, 'No, no I'm not going anywhere.'"

On finding her mission in life:

"I knew I wanted to snowboard again right off the bat, and that became a huge motivator for me. And I had no idea how I was going to do it. I called every adaptive ski school in the country trying to figure out if they had ever heard of another double leg amputee snowboarder, and all I would get back was, 'Oh, you should try to monoski,' which basically is to sit on a ski without your legs. And I just remember thinking, 'No, I want to use my legs. I want to use them. I want to figure this out. I don't want to set them aside.' That put me on a mission to figure out a way to do it again."

Reading from her book, on falling from her snowboard wearing prosthetic legs:

"My goggles went one way. My beanie went the other way. And my legs, still attached to my snowboard, went flying 30 feet down the mountainside. People on the chair lifts above us stared down. One lady actually screamed."

On her 'snowboard feet:'

"Every time I'm out snowboarding I'm constantly tinkering with my legs to try and get them to feel the way I know they are supposed to feel and move the way they are supposed to move. ... For running, you have running feet. For snowboarding I now have what I call my snowboarding feet. They're random pieces and parts put together and I chop off the toes and stuff them into my boots and add duct tape and wood, and there's rusted bolts that keep them together. So that's my snowboard legs. I call them low-tech-hi-tech."

On keeping perspective:

"Be grateful for what you have, when in that moment you have almost nothing. You know, I didn't have my legs. I didn't have my health. I didn't have the life that I knew. However, I was incredibly grateful to have my family, my friends, my doctors, a second chance at life to wake up every day and see the sun rise -- just anything that fills you up and makes you grateful be alive to think about that stuff everyday. We are all blessed."