Dancing with New Legs

Our daughter is engaged to a very fine young man.  This means that finally my husband and I are going to take dance lessons, to prepare for the wedding.  This is a radical departure for both of us. Neither of us grew up dancing.  I am the daughter of a fundamentalist minister, and  dancing was forbidden. My husband was the victim of the rock concert generation, where you just bobbed your head, instead of doing anything that required choreography. (There may be some hearing damage, too).

My daughter always has teased me about my lack of rhythm. I have white woman’s disease. (Think  Julie Louis-Dreyfus in that Seinfeld skit where everyone groans and covers their eyes  when she dances. ) But our daughter grew up taking ballet and dance lessons.  It is a joy to watch her dance on stage or at a wedding.  (Now walking down the sidewalk, she trips all over herself). Anyway,  I am terrified about flopping on the floor, in front of our favorite family and friends on one of the happiest days of our lives.

But Amy Purdy gives me courage. She is the woman who lost both of her legs, yet managed to score a bronze medal at Sochi last winter and preformed on “Dancing With the Stars.” In 1999, Amy was stricken with bacterial meningitis.  She almost died and fell into a coma. Amazingly she recovered, but the infection had cut off circulation to her legs. Doctors amputated both legs below her knees.

She learned how to walk again on prosthetic legs. In 2012 when snowboarding was declared an Olympic sport, Amy started training. Then she went to Sochi and got a bronze medal and decided to appear on the strenuous Dancing with the Stars. These are amazing feats for any able bodied person.

Amy and her boyfriend give back too. They run Adaptive Actions Sports a charity that helps wounded soldiers and children with disabilities snowboard and skateboard.

“We show people that there’s not just life on the other side, but a full life—maybe fuller than you ever would have had if this had never happened to you,” Amy said.

I adore that spirit.  Our son, who has cerebral palsy, has taught us much about this resilient approach to life. He too wants to take  lessons, so that he can dance with his sister at her wedding.