Page Turner: On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy

Page Turner: On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy


Picturesque mountains and an elegant dance costume accompany Amy Purdy on the cover of her memoir, On My Own Two Feet.

What is so important about her story? Everything.

The discovery of her love for snowboarding and massage therapy led Purdy to have an exchange with a client that left her convinced her life was going to be extraordinary.

After a particularly long shift, while still in the parking lot, Purdy’s boss called to ask if she could massage their last customer of the day—an older gentleman, who appeared to be part Native American. She agreed and when she encountered the man, he relayed that he believed she was “going to go on and do amazing things” in her life, which was “going to change her in a big way.” This resonated with Purdy, as her gut feeling had always been that something big was going to happen in her life. 

But not long after, while coming down with what she thought was the flu, she awoke from a nap to find her skin and extremities purple. After being rushed to the hospital, she went into kidney failure, and was put into an induced coma. A diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, with a 2% chance of survival and an extended hospital stay, resulted in the amputation of both of her legs below the knee and the need for a new kidney, which was donated by her father. She experienced all of this at the very young age of nineteen, with her whole life still ahead of her.

“If my life were a book, and I were the author, how would I want my story to go?” {Click to tweet}

If my life were a book, and I were the author, how would I want my story to go?

That is the question that Amy Purdy asked herself as she tried to figure out exactly where she wanted her life to go following this tragic incident.

As the gurney rolled her into the operating room for her amputation surgery, Purdy created three goals for herself: (1) “I will never feel sorry for myself,” (2) “I will snowboard again this upcoming season,” and (3) “Once I figure this out, I will help others.” What happened next was nothing short of pure inspiration, for everyone.

Related: Your Real Game Plan for Change

Shrugging off the labels given to her, such as “stump” and “amputee,” Purdy struck out on a course that would take her back up the mountains she love, and into the hearts of many experiencing similar circumstances.

She fell in love, moved to the beach, became an actress, competed on The Amazing Race, starred in a Madonna video, and started a non-profit organization for adaptive athletes. After lobbying for many years, she fought and won the battle to make snowboarding a sport in the Paralympics. Then, while training to make the U.S. Paralympic team and compete in Sochi in 2014, Hollywood came calling…in more ways than one.

Matthew Vaughn, a British film director, contacted Purdy about starring in an upcoming production called Kingsman: The Secret Service. As he put it, he was searching for someone to play a “bad-ass assassin with bionic legs.”

After going through all of the pre-production requirements and preparations, Purdy was cut from the film. An apparent insurance issue from her snowboarding training caused the film studio to cut her.

She put the disappointment behind her and threw herself back into training, only to receive a call from Deena Katz, a producer at Dancing with the Stars. The show was due to start only a few short days after the snowboarding events in Sochi, but that didn’t deter her from competing in either format.

Partnered with Derek Hough, Purdy was candidly honest about not knowing what complications her prosthetics may add to their experience. They were a team and learned together. Making it all the way to the Finals, only to come in behind Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Amy Purdy proved to America what she had always known—that there is nothing she, or anyone, can’t do.

Amy Purdy proved to America what she had always known—that there is nothing she, or anyone, can’t do.

If you’re looking for a role model, Amy Purdy might just be the person you need more of in your life. In her own words: “I didn’t have someone in my situation to look up to when I lost my legs. What a privilege to be in a position to fill those shoes.” And fill them, she does.

Oh, and the book of life she is authoring? Well, she can’t wait to keep adding to it, “one day at a time—one dream at a time.”

Her honesty and straightforward approach to the details she shares are thoughtful and motivating. She makes you understand that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something you can do to get closer to where you want, and are meant, to be.

Related: How to Find Motivation When You Feel Like You're Failing

Are you looking for a read that will provide you with serious career advice? This book is not for you. This book is for those looking for some inspiration and motivation in how to make bold decisions in their lives, whether that’s in their career, in their relationships, or in their own personal growth. 

Purdy has forged her own road in a life that could have been cut drastically short. She knows that, and she is taking nothing—not one moment of it—for granted. 

We shouldn’t either. Go grab yourself a copy of this quick read, I highly recommend it.

Photo: Harper Collins