Everyday holds a surprise. I believe that we each create our experiences every day. Today, I was totally surprised by the chain of events that left me feeling incredibly inspired and totally hopeful for the future.
Today I met Stephan and Sheri Purdy. It was just another photo shoot, just another day. Much to my surprise, I was completely changed by this chance encounter. Their home was beautiful and I had a great shoot.
It wasn't till later that the beautiful package unwrapped itself for me to appreciate. I googled Amy Purdy. Earlier, Stephan had asked me if I watched Dancing with the Stars. I don't watch much TV, but was inclined to say yes, as I'm sure I had watched an episode or two from the corner of my eye. Turns out that Stef's daughter, Amy, had been a contestant this season - and almost won! I didn't think much of it at the time, other than, DAMN! - Dancing with the Stars?
Well, turns out that Amy isn't just another daughter -- of a couple that I met -- on a shoot that I did.
At age 19, Amy Purdy contracted Neisseria meningitis, a form of bacterial meningitis. The disease affected her circulatory system when the infection led to septic shock. Both of her legs had to be amputated below the knee, she lost both kidneys, and her spleen had to be removed. Sepsis is when an infection (any infection) causes an inflammatory response, leading to organ failure and/or clinical shock, and is a common cause of death. In Amy's case, she went into septic shock in less than 24 hours of getting sick. Doctors gave Amy a 2% chance to survive since her sepsis was so advanced. Two years later, she received a kidney transplant from Stef, her father.
Amy began snowboarding seven months after she received her leg prosthetics. About a year after her legs were amputated, she finished third in a snowboarding competition at Mammoth Mountain. Subsequently, she received a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a non-profit organization. Through this grant, she was able to compete in several snowboarding competitions in the U.S.
In 2003, Amy was recruited by the CAF as spokesperson, and she moved to San Diego to be closer to the CAF headquarters. In San Diego, she continued her pre-amputee profession as a massage therapist. She also became involved in the modeling and acting industry. In February 2003, she played a model in a Madonna music video. Later in 2003, Amy started working for Freedom Innovations, a prosthetic feet manufacturer, as Amputee Advocate.
She has gone on to co-found her own non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA for individuals with physical disabilities who want to get involved in action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing) or art and music.
What did I come away with? WE ALL NEED TO STOP OUR BITCHIN! We can meet, face, and overcome our hurdles, our fears. We are all incredibly powerful beings and need to start to own it.
I only hope that I can be as good of a parent as Stef and Sheri has been to their kids. And to be as compelling of a human being as Amy has been - and - well, currently IS!
Below is my INSPIRED photo shoot. I'm absolutely sure that the Purdys will sell their house in lightning speed!