“Cultivate an optimistic mind, use your imagination, always consider alternatives, and dare to believe that you can make possible what others think is impossible.”
– Rodolfo Costa
I write about how we can be, do, or have anything we want all the time, and I completely believe that if you believe it, it is true. Yet, when I see a shining example of this principle at work, I am always awe-struck even though I know it’s possible. And what I saw today was the absolute magnificence of the human spirit in action.
I caught a re-run of NBC’s Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge today. I’ve seen races similar to this one before, but I wasn’t familiar with this particular television program, where six teams of five compete in the world’s most grueling mile-long obstacle course in each episode. Every athlete who participates in this challenge is to be commended, but when I saw a clip on Amy Palmiero-Winters, I was blown away.
Amy is a 44-year old mother of two, marathon, and ultra-marathon athlete, who holds eleven world records in various events. Yes, I know, you’re thinking, how is Amy any different from some of the other athletes I’ve spotlighted recently?
Well, that’s just it, in a way she isn’t any different, despite the fact that in 1994, she was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed her left leg, and after three years and twenty-five surgeries, her leg was amputated below the knee…and she’s still competing in able-bodied competitions, and winning.
Unlike the ultra-marathon long-distance running Amy is accustomed to, the Spartan Race involves many grueling obstacles, and is designed to rely on team work. This is how NBC describes the challenge:
Each team consists of two men, two women and a team captain. No team gets through the demanding obstacles or crosses the finish line without working together. From muddy crawls under barbed wire to rope-burning climbs, the competition culminates with one of the most arduous obstacles ever built: the dreaded slip wall. As teams progress in the competition and the obstacles get more punishing, teamwork is the only way to come out on top.
Take a look at just how punishing this course is:
Amy’s team finished off the pace in their heat race, and failed to move forward for an opportunity to compete for the ultimate prize of $250,000, but like Amy said in an interview with GoErie.com, “I can honestly say when we crossed that finish line, we were winners. We did win because we gave our best. We gave everything that we had. You can’t do any more than that.”
Amy’s giving everything she has in many other ways as well – she founded One Step Ahead Foundation; a not-for-profit organization dedicated to giving children with physical disabilities positive experiences through sports. Partnered with A Step Ahead Prosthetics, together they’re helping young children build confidence and learn that they can do anything. They’re even customizing American Girl dolls for little girls with limb loss! Take a look, I promise, this is the best video I have ever shared:
Awe-inspiring. Thank you Amy. Thank you A Step Ahead.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!