About Amy Palmiero-Winters
Amy Palmiero-Winters is the founder of the One Step Ahead Foundation. After losing her left leg below the knee in a motorcycle in 1994, Amy compiled a tremendous portfolio of world records and firsts for a female amputee in marathons, triathlons, and ultra-marathons. As she attained more and more achievements, she found herself in the position of being a role model, especially for young people with physical disabilities of their own. She soon found herself working extensively with children, introducing them to sports and athletics as a way of helping them overcome their physical limitations. After several years, Amy founded the One Step Ahead Foundation in order to provide even more opportunities for children with physical disabilities.
Amy Palmiero-Winters has competed in track and distance running from a young age. She ran track and cross country in high school and even making deliveries for her family’s restaurant. In 1994, however, Amy was forced to put away the running shoes when she was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed her left leg. Amy and her doctors tried everything to keep her leg intact including skin and artery grafts, and nearly 30 surgeries over three years. As her ankle began to fuse, however, her foot was barely functional and she opted for an amputation. Following the amputation, Amy set out to get back to running, which has taken her through countless marathons, triathlons, Ironman triathlons and some of the world’s most extreme races.
In 2004, despite being five months pregnant and running on a prosthetic leg only meant for walking, she finished second in her division. She went onto placed third in her division at the 2005 New York City Triathlon and win the Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii. At this point, Amy decided to engage in running on a more serious level. After obtaining a highly-customized prosthetic leg, from A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Hicksville New York she then broke the world record in 2006 at the Cleveland marathon for a below-knee female amputee by more than twenty-five minutes. She followed this up by running the 2006 Chicago Marathon in 3:04, which stands as the best marathon time for a female below-knee amputee.
In 2009, Amy decided to switch from marathons to the more demanding ultramarathons, which are races of more than fifty miles. She ran ten ultramarathons between 2009 and 2010, finishing first in the female division at the Heartland 100 Mile in October, 2009 and finishing first overall at the Arizona Road Racers Run to the Future twenty-four-hour race on December 31, 2009 by running 130.4 miles during the allotted time. It was the first time an amputee had won an ultramarathon.
After this performance, Amy was named to the US ultrarunning team for the IAU 24-Hour Ultramarathon World Championships in Brive, France. It was the first time an amputee had been named to a United States able-bodied championship team. On May 17, 2010, she finished 18th in the female division at the World Championships, running 123.99 miles.
In 2010, Amy took 1st place in her division in the New York City Triathlon, 3rd place female at the The Ultracentric 24hr race and 1st place female at The Long Haul 100mi Race.
Amy currently holds eleven world records in various track events. In 2010, she was awarded the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States and the ESPN ESPY Award as the top female athlete with a disability in the world. Also in 2010, Amy received the Women’s Sports Foundation Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, the Challenges Athletes Foundation Trail Blazer Award, the Huffington Post Game Changer Award and the USA Strength Award.
In 2011, Amy became the first female amputee to finish the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is described as “the world’s toughest foot race”. It is a 135-mile course starting at 282 feet below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. She had a finish time of 41:26:42. In 2011, Amy was the first amputee to run the Reykjavik, Iceland Marathon. During her time in Iceland, Amy was honored with the 2011 Ossur Ultimate Athlete Award
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