On the first day of the NECA Show in Seattle, Hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees packed into the Washington Convention Center's ballroom to hear Amy Purdy's inspiring story, and they were not disappointed.
Purdy is a world-class competitive snowboarder, dancer, model, actress, designer and New York Times bestselling author. Her accomplishments are notable for anyone, but Purdy lost both of her legs below the knees from meningococcal meningitis when she was just 19 years old. In 2014, she won the Paralympic bronze medal for snowboarding, and she was on Dancing With the Stars, where she and her partner finished in second place.
Today, Purdy travels with her story, and it's precisely those years between that tragic illness ravaging her young body and her ultimate triumph where just about anyone—especially electrical contractors with businesses that require innovative solutions to succeed—can find inspiration.
Purdy views what happened to her as a necessary transformation, which revealed to her opportunities she wouldn't have dreamed before as well as her true character.
"Our borders and obstacles can only do two things," she said. "One, stop us, or two, force us to get creative."
When she first started to cope with the loss of her legs, she wanted to know if she would ever be able to snowboard again. Finding her prosthetic legs inadequate, she researched whether any other amputee had used prosthetics to snowboard. She found no solutions existed, but Purdy didn't give up. She created her own prosthetics that would enable her to snowboard.
"We don't need to be limited by our circumstances, but our circumstances can open a whole new world of opportunities," she said.
Learning her loss didn't have to hold her back, she started a foundation to help other amputees not only cope with their challenges but find ways to continue to pursue action sports, such as snowboarding or skateboarding. Soon, she set her sights higher, not only on competing in the paralympics, but dancing.
When she went on Dancing with the Stars, there were no prosthetic feet for dancing, so now with a prosthetics designer, she created feet for dancing.
"Every week, we had to get creative and just figure out a way," she said.
Purdy spoke about the power of intention. Rather than saying what you're going to do, she suggests saying you're doing it. That frame of mind is where she put herself when writing her bestselling book.
"I didn't tell people I was going to write a book," she said. "I told them I was writing a book."
Purdy's speech at the NECA Show—her entire life, in fact—is one big lesson in overcoming challenges with imagination, creativity and determination. At the opening general session for NECA 2017, she shared that unique ingenuity, and if the contractors in the audience took home even a fraction of Purdy's never-quit, overcome-all-odds attitude, they will find greater success in not only their businesses but also every aspect of their lives.
About The Author
Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.