“As I continue to grow, I learn the boundaries I set for myself have been self imposed.” This quote from Amy Bream pretty much summarizes her journey throughout life, after being born with a limb deficiency. Growing up, her parents did everything they could to instill confidence in her. That foundation definitely set the stage for the amazing things we’re seeing Amy do now. While she is still learning new things about herself and growing daily, Amy has become an ambassador for surpassing your limits. After a awesome Nike feature last year, Amy is now being highlighted in Eastbay’s “ConqHER” campaign, which focuses on women who break barriers in sports.
Although Amy never felt ashamed of having a prosthesis, she was definitely self conscious about it in certain situations. She shied away from participating in physical activities and sports as a kid. With those types of apprehensions in her background, reflecting on what she’s accomplished probably seems surreal. Amy is about as active as it gets and she is using her platform to inspire others to overcome their fears.
A move to Nashville a few years ago opened Amy up to a world she never imagined. It all started when she discovered Title Boxing Gym. At a friend’s suggestion, she decided to give boxing a try. While other sports made her feel like she wouldn’t be able to keep up, she noticed that she could get lost in the workout with boxing. The solitude gave her the opportunity to not worry about what she looked like or if anyone was staring. It’s almost ironic that by ignoring everyone else in the gym, she became the center of attention.
Amy lets people know that her journey is indeed that, a journey. She didn’t walk into the gym one day and immediately become confident. She says along the way, she’s had to make small decisions on almost a daily basis to simply live her life normally. A prosthesis shouldn’t prevent her from wearing skirts or force her to try to blend in. Many positive affirmations, conscious efforts and confidence building over the years allowed her to now flourish in this space. And Amy says she has many more goals to accomplish. She is always looking for the next challenge. Whether it’s taking on kickboxing or completing a Tough Mudder race, Amy is constantly looking for different ways to push herself.
Even though Amy makes it look easy, and incredibly fun, being active while using a prosthesis is not without its’ unique set of challenges. Besides the mental hurdles, one of the biggest obstacles is getting the necessary equipment. I asked Amy about this in a conversation on Friday. She said there are some things in place to help mitigate this issue but it’s still an uphill battle. She mentioned the non-profit organization, C.A.F. (Challenged Athletes Foundation). They help alleviate the high costs for adaptive sports equipment and Amy was even able to get a prosthesis through them.
While organizations like C.A.F. are definitely helpful in trying to improve accessibility and cost effectiveness for equipment, it’s still a challenge. Amy said she would like to see some changes made in insurance policies that would allow some of the items to be covered. “The more active you are, the more equipment you need.”, she said. And with a pair of running blades potentially costing about $36,000.00, more support is absolutely needed to make sure adaptive athletes have the resources they need to participate in the sports they love. As Amy always says, “Legs are expensive.”
If you haven’t had the pleasure of perusing Amy’s Instagram page, @onelegtostandon, or her website, https://www.onelegtostandon.com, you’re missing out on her awesome personality and sense of humor. Amy likes to keep things light but is also uplifting and inspiring. The most poignant thing about Amy’s platform is that her messages of empowerment, confidence and inclusiveness aren’t only reserved for those prosthesis users who participate in sports. She addresses every aspect of life that someone in her situation may encounter, whether they are active or not. She encourages people to just be comfortable with themselves. Her main message is just to ignore the fact that you have a prosthesis and simply live your life. It shouldn’t prevent you from playing sports. Or wearing skirts. Or going out on dates. It shouldn’t be viewed as a curse or a burden.
Another thing Amy touched on was that prosthesis users do not want an invitation to the pity party you’d like to throw them. People are often well-intentioned and believe they are being encouraging and supportive, especially in the gym, but rest assured that Amy wants to be pushed to her limits and held to standards that are in line with her abilities. Amy says if she’s in the gym and she cranks out three squats instead of her usual twenty plus, she doesn’t want a pat on the back. Keep your “Good Job” and tell her to work harder. And she says many adaptive athletes share this sentiment. Even in everyday life, she says this is something that she wishes wasn’t as prevalent. But she understands it’s human nature and isn’t going to cease.
Eastbay has featured some phenomenal women in their campaign and Amy certainly fits that mold. By sharing her journey, she has empowered so many people to face their fears and conquer things they would have otherwise have never attempted. As she continues to break barriers, Amy is only scratching the surface of her awesomeness and becoming a symbol of motivation in the process. Not bad for a girl from Boiling Springs with one leg.