She’s been to Oprah’s house for brunch, appeared in a Madonna music video, won second place in “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014, and is currently training to compete in the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games on March 9-18. Yet athlete/model/author/motivational speaker Amy Purdy still finds time in her busy schedule to help direct Adaptive Action Sports (AAS), which she co-founded in 2005 along with her husband, Daniel Gale.

Based at Copper Mountain, AAS allows disabled children, young adults and wounded veterans to compete in action sports, including snowboarding and skateboarding. Its core principle is that action sports encourage individuality and creativity in participants, while building independence and self-confidence. The organization trains athletes ages 18 to 35, including wounded veterans, many of whom hope to compete for a spot on the U.S. National Parasnowboard Team.

Born in Las Vegas, 38-year-old Purdy was the bronze medalist in snowboarding in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. She’s now training in Europe and competing in Paralympic trials. She’ll learn in mid-February whether she qualifies for the Paralympic Games.

After losing both legs below the knee to bacterial meningitis, the para-athlete began to snowboard seven months after receiving prosthetics at the age of 19.

“My impetus for starting AAS was to give others the chance to see the path I followed to get here: from my hospital bed, to the Paralympics medal podium, to ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” says Purdy. “If someone who has been born with a congenital abnormality, lost a leg, or suffered a brain injury succeeds at snowboarding or skateboarding, they will believe they have the ability to conquer other challenges and truly be ready to live beyond their limits.”

Purdy continues, “For me it was all about focusing on my abilities. If challenged, I tell people to get creative, work hard, and the possibilities are endless. You never know when your detour will lead you to your destiny.”

—Jeff Blumenfeld