Amy Purdy

Amelia Michelle "Amy" Purdy (born November 7, 1979) is an American actress, model, para-snowboarder, motivational speaker, clothing designer and author. Purdy is a 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist, 2018 Paralympics silver medalist, and co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports.

Amy Purdy
Amy Purdy - PopTech 2012 - Narrow.jpg
Purdy at PopTech 2012
Personal information
Birth nameAmelia Michelle Purdy
Born (1979-11-07) November 7, 1979 (age 41)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Spouse(s)Daniel Gale (m. 2015)

Life and careerEdit

Purdy was born in Las Vegas. At age 19, she contracted Neisseria meningitidis, a form of bacterial meningitis.[1] The disease affected her circulatory system when the infection led to septic shock;[2] both of her legs had to be amputated below the knee, she lost both kidneys,[3] and her spleen had to be removed.[1] Doctors gave Purdy a 2% chance of survival.[4] Two years later, she received a kidney transplant from her father.[1]

Purdy began snowboarding seven months after she received her prosthetic legs. 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, Purdy 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.[1] Later in 2003, Purdy started working for Freedom Innovations, a prosthetic feet manufacturer, as its "Amputee Advocate".

She has gone on to co-found her own non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports,[5] a chapter of Disabled Sports USA[6] for individuals with physical disabilities who want to get involved in action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing) or art and music.[1][7]

In 2005, Purdy made her film debut in What's Bugging Seth, a movie by Eli Steele.

She was named one of ESPNW's Impact 25 in 2014,[8] and one of Oprah's SuperSoul 100 visionaries and influential leaders in 2016.[9]

Television appearancesEdit

In 2012, Purdy and her now husband Daniel Gale[10] participated on the 21st season of The Amazing Race. After nearly winning the first leg of the race, they were the second team eliminated and finished in 10th place out of 11 teams.[11]

On February 5, 2014, Purdy was in a one-hour special on NBC television titled How to Raise an Olympian. The program, hosted by Meredith Vieira, chronicled the journeys of seven U.S. Olympians and included interviews with parents and coaches along with home video and photos from each athlete's childhood. Purdy went on to win the bronze medal in Snowboard Cross in the 2014 Winter Paralympics.

On June 9, 2014, Purdy appeared on CBS's The Price Is Right as a guest model.[12]

In 2015, Purdy was featured in a Super Bowl advert for the Toyota Camry. The advert features Purdy snowboarding, dancing, and adjusting her prosthetic legs with a voiceover of Muhammad Ali's "How Great I Am" speech.[13] Reviews questioned the efficacy of the ad; "It’s really an ad about how amazing Amy Purdy is versus how amazing the new Camry is", said advertising professional Megan Hartman.[13][14] On February 22, 2015, Purdy drove the Toyota Camry pace car in the 57th running of the Daytona 500.

Purdy was a celebrity judge at the Miss America 2016 pageant on September 13, 2015.[15]


On December 30, 2014, Purdy released a memoir entitled On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs To Learning The Dance Of Life, published by HarperCollins.

Commercial successEdit

Purdy is considered[by whom?] one of the most commercially successful Paralympic/adaptive athletes in the world. Purdy has existing marketing partnerships/endorsements agreements with Toyota, Pfizer, The Hartford, Element, Freedom Innovations and has had previous relationships with Bridgestone, Kelloggs and Coca-Cola. Purdy is represented by the Chicago-based firm Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners.[citation needed]


Purdy dancing with a robotic arm at the 2016 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony

Purdy was a contestant on season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. Paired with five-time champion Derek Hough, Purdy was the first double amputee contestant to ever appear on the show.[16] Hough was, at the time, fresh from winning his fifth Mirrorball trophy and did not plan on coming back to the show. However, he changed his mind when Purdy joined the show as a contestant.[citation needed]

During the show, Purdy was repeatedly praised for her fast learning skills, immense natural dancing ability, incredible endurance and passion and for being a role model. She never received any score lower than an 8. She received her first perfect score (40 out of 40) for her eighth dance, the Argentine tango, while dancing it after having an intense back injury the week prior. Purdy went on to receive two more perfect scores later on, though she also came close to a perfect score in four other dances where she received almost-perfect scores (29 out of 30 or 39 out of 40).

Purdy was consistently deemed safe to advance to the week after, and she made it all the way to the finale with Olympic ice dancer Gold medalist Meryl Davis and actress Candace Cameron-Bure. Purdy eventually finished as a runner-up to Davis, and Bure took third place. In her appearance on the show, Purdy broke several records: she was the first double amputee contestant on the show and joined the list of few contestants to never receive any score lower than an 8 from the judges. Her performance average of 27.9 out of 30 is among the top ten of the highest ever on the show's history (with Davis' 28.4 average being the highest ever).

Week # Dance/song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Cha-Cha-Cha/"Counting Stars" 8 8 8 No Elimination
2 Swing/"Swing Set" (Jurassic 5) 8 8 8 Safe
3 Contemporary/"Human" 9 9/9* 9 Safe
4 Salsa/"Brand New" 9 8/8* 9 No Elimination
5 Waltz/"So This Is Love" 9 9/10* 9 Safe
6 Jive/"Shout" 9 10*/9 10 Safe
7 Rumba/"Light My Fire"
Team Loca (Freestyle)/"Livin' la Vida Loca"
8 Argentine Tango/"Heart Upon My Sleeve"
Jive Dance Duel/"Ain't Nothing Wrong with That"
Quickstep/"You Can't Hurry Love"
Jazz/"Too Darn Hot"
Salsa/"Ran Kan Kan"
Freestyle/"Dare You"
Argentine Tango & Cha-Cha-Cha Fusion/"Rather Be"

At the 2016 Summer Paralympics' opening ceremony, Purdy made an appearance performing a dance routine with what was promoted as a "surprise partner": a KUKA robotic arm.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jensen, Adam (September 5, 2009). "Disabled Athletes Adapt". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "Meet the Athletes". PBS. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "Amy Purdy: A bionic fembot's road to Sochi". Summit Dailey. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Passion, Perseverance Lift Amy Purdy". espnW. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Adaptive Action Sports website Archived May 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. (February 25, 2016). Retrieved on September 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Disabled Sports USA chapters website. (November 29, 2015). Retrieved on September 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Hughes, Stuart (March 22, 2006). "Back on Board". BBC. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  8. ^ 2014 espnW Impact 25. (July 16, 2013). Retrieved on September 8, 2016.
  9. ^ "Meet the SuperSoul100: The World's Biggest Trailblazers in One Room". O Magazine. August 1, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ "Amy Purdy's partner in crime Daniel Gale". Fabwags. February 20, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  11. ^ Kwiatkowski, Elizabeth (August 29, 2012). "'The Amazing Race 21' cast and new $2 million grand prize details announced by CBS". Reality TV World. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  12. ^ The Price Is Right. Season 42. Episode 6771K. June 9, 2014. CBS.
  13. ^ a b Judkis, Maura (February 1, 2015). "Toyota's Super Bowl 2015 commercial is gonna show you how great it is". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  14. ^ Li, David K. (February 2, 2015). "Super Bowl commercials that scored – and bored". New York Post. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  15. ^ Norwin, Alyssa (September 15, 2015). "Amy Purdy: Gorgeous In Cutout Gown At Miss America 2016". Hollywood Life. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin (March 4, 2014). "Dancing With the Stars Cast Revealed! Cody Simpson, Nene Leakes and James Maslow Are Among the Names—See the Full List!". EOnline. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "In Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Amy Purdy of 'Dancing With the Stars' rocks her running blades". Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2016.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff
Dancing with the Stars (US) runner up
Season 18
(Spring 2014 with Derek Hough)
Succeeded by
Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas