On losing my legs and loving life

Amy was 19 and on top of the world. During the winters, she would snowboard competitively, and in the summers, she would wakeboard. When she wasn’t taking in nature and sports, she worked as a massage therapist at a world class spa. She felt like she was in total in control of her life and loved every aspect of it.

That is, until she almost died.

“One day I was at a lake, I cut my toe on a rock, and it got infected,” she said. “At first I thought I had the flu, but I had actually contracted bacterial meningitis. Within hours the bacteria entered my blood stream and began raging through my body.”

After cheating death, it was time for Amy to come back down to earth again. When she woke up and found out she was going to lose both her legs, and possibly her hands, chin and nose, she realized the not dying was the easy part. Healing was going to be a whole new challenge.

Amy was 83 pounds, had kidney failure and stomach tubes sticking out of her the day she went up the mountain with friends.

“I put my snowboard on and made it off the lift just fine, that was the surprising part,” she said. “Then I started to feel anxious. For seven months I had convinced myself that I could do this, but it wasn’t until that very day that I had to admit to the idea of ‘what if I can’t?’”

Admitting defeat isn’t something that comes easily to Amy, especially now that she’s beaten the odds so many times. Since her sickness, she’s been in a Madonna music video, cast as the lead in an award-winning indie film and returned to snowboarding and wakeboarding competitively.

With all these accomplishments, though, Amy is most proud of starting her own non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports (AAS).

“We help people with disabilities get involved with action sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, rock climbing and surfing,” she said.

Learn more about Adaptive Action Sports and how Amy is helping people with “disabilities” do whatever they want.

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Changing the Landscape
Amy’s non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports, helps others with physical disabilities participate in action sports.

Hello Hollywood
Amy went from slopes to silver screen in the drama What’s Bugging Seth, released in 2005.

Stylish & Sporty
Core Action Sports is committed to transforming the landscape of action sports for women and girls around the world… and providing the athletic gear they need to participate in style.

A Leg Up
Amputees no longer have to be immobile, thanks to companies like Freedom Innovations leading the revolution in prosthetics.

It’s All Downhill
Shred your old notions about snow boarding by taking a look at the U.S.A. Snowboard Association.

Becoming a runner, one block at a time

Amy started running her sophomore year in college, inspired by her father, who was a life-long marathoner. Even though the compulsion to run may have been in her DNA, the ability wasn’t. Her body type wasn’t what you’d expect of long-distance runners and she didn’t have supernatural stamina.

For Amy, running is less about the speed and more about the distance, the discipline and the goal. That is why she chose the Long Beach Marathon for her first marathon, because it was a nice flat path down the beach.

“I just wanted to get it done and cross the finish line—that was my main goal,” she said. “I didn’t care at all about my time. I didn’t care if I walked the whole thing. I just wanted to get it done.”

After experiencing her first marathon, she learned that the only way to prepare yourself, is to put in the mileage. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a marathoner.

Since bringing running into her life, Amy said she’s seen dramatic improvements in her health, both her physical health and her emotional well being.

“When I first started, I probably lost 20 pounds within the first couple of months,” she said. “I haven’t had a cold or gotten sick in what feels like years. Running is one way you can take care of your body. Physically it has kept me strong and my cardiovascular system is strong, but emotionally it also has all kinds of benefits.”

If you’re curious about what it’s like to run a marathon, here’s one woman’s mile by mile breakdown of her first marathon experience:

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