Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy shares how she overcame major health challenges

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Amy Purdy is a three-time Paralympic medalist and the first double-leg amputee to snowboard in the Paralympic games. She's also competed on Dancing with the Stars on ABC and now she's a motivational speaker.

A passionate snowboarder for most of her life, Amy's life changed when she was 19. She contracted meningococcal meningitis, and ended up having both her legs amputated below the knees. She also ended up losing kidney function, and her father gave her one of his kidneys.

"I felt like I had the flu, and within 24 hours I was in the hospital on life support, given a 2% chance to live," Purdy said.

Her extreme physical setbacks have sparked mental health challenges. Purdy joined ABC7 Eyewitness News live at 7 p.m. to share her approach on overcoming challenges.

Purdy said she used her passion for snowboarding as motivation during her recovery. She fashioned a pair of feet she could snowboard in that are now in the Smithsonian.

"I took it as a challenge," Purdy said. "You can either use your challenges as a motivator to figure things out, or as a burden. And I didn't want my legs to be a burden, I wanted to figure this out."

Purdy shared this advice for those who are struggling with life's challenges.

"When we think we need to overcome something is when we resist it, and then we end up maybe fighting with it, it maybe becomes even more of a challenge," Purdy said. "And so for me, it's always been, OK, this is with me the rest of my life... How can I actually lean into this? How can I use what I have? How can I appreciate what I have and see how that helps me."
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