My leg was amputated when I was 2 years old because of a condition called fibular hemimelia, meaning that I was born without one of the bones in my leg and that leg was also significantly shorter than the other. After the amputation, I was fit with a prosthesis and sent on my way. I was young and don’t remember having 2 biological feet, so wearing a prosthesis is my normal. My parents, and in particular my mom, treated me just like any other kid, and the only real difference in my childhood was extra medical appointments related to my leg. My mom always expected the best of me, encouraged me to challenge myself, and was there when I needed her support.
When I first learned about Skirt Sports, and specifically the #REALwomenmove campaign, I immediately fell in love because Skirt Sports truly embraces women of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels. This message resonated with me because it was so similar to the message I consistently heard from my mom who never let me believe that I was any less of a person because I happen to wear a prosthetic leg.
As soon as I saw the psyched print I just knew I had to use it as the outer layer for my sports-specific legs so I could champion the #REALwomenmove campaign any time I’m out running or biking. Although I may have 1 leg made of carbon and metal, that hasn’t slowed me down and I want to motivate other people who have challenges, be they visible or invisible.
It’s funny, a few weeks ago my husband – who I love dearly – was talking about how he couldn’t go swimming because he had recently sprained his ankle while skateboarding. Here’s how the conversation panned out – Me: “Why don’t you use a pool buoy so you won’t have to worry about kicking?” Zach: “I still won’t be able to push off the wall.” Me: “Really…? [5 seconds of silence while I made a face at him.] I push off the wall with one foot every time I swim, and there are world class swimmers who have no feet at all who manage just fine. I’m pretty sure that excuse is invalid.” It’s amazing how much our mind can get in the way of us achieving our goals, and my hope is that perhaps if someone sees me doing something active it will spark a fire in them to go out and try something that they may have previously thought was impossible.
I grew up riding horses competitively in the sport of 3-day eventing (the triathlon of the horse world) and to say I was obsessed is an understatement. My mom supported my endeavors, but she also required that I help cover the costs of the expensive sport I’d chosen by working at the barn every day after school and on weekends. This taught me what hard work is all about and how the rewards are so much greater when you work hard for them. Unfortunately, a very close friend was in a horseback riding accident that took her life during the summer I was home from college in 2004, and my love for that sport never fully recovered. Not only did I lose a great friend and my true love for a sport, I had also lost the outlet for much of my energy and competitive drive.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014 when I attended a triathlon camp hosted by the Challenged Athletes Foundation where I met Coach Mark Sortino – this was the catalyst to my current triathlon journey. Finally, I had found a new sport that gave me a competitive outlet for my energy. Upon returning home from camp I immediately starting working with Coach Mark, and he has since helped me achieve personal records in the 5K, half marathon, and sprint distance triathlon. He also coached me through my first Olympic distance triathlon and this upcoming weekend I will embark on my biggest physical challenge yet – the Coeur d’Alene Half Ironman. My mom, of course, will be there cheering for me, likely sporting the Skirt Sports gear I got her for her birthday this year.
I’d like to close with one final thought, and that is that we always need to remember that we all have to start somewhere, and starting at the top is highly unlikely, so we should focus on the hard work we put into achieving our own personal bests and goals rather than comparing ourselves to others. We’re all on our own unique journey and each is just as meaningful and important as the other regardless of whether it takes 5 minutes or 20 minutes to cover a mile. The important thing is to always remember that #REALwomenmove, build each other up, and support each other on their parallel journeys through sport and life.
Skirt Sports note: To learn more about Emily, watch this awesome episode of She’s Got Grit and reach out to her via FB. She’s also the Co-Chair of the non-profit Cycle of Hope, along with Tricia Downing shown here too!
She would love to hear from you!