United States snowboarder Brenna Huckaby captured a gold medal and bronze medal at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The 26 year old mother of two took home the bronze in snowboardcross and then a few days later she topped that with a gold in banked slalom.
The road to the Paralympics started for Huckaby when she was a 13 year old gymnast and was beginning to suffer from chronic knee pain. Huckaby tells Self the story of struggling with knee soreness for about a year before it was finally diagnosed as cancer. She immediately entered into chemotherapy, but unfortunately a tumor on the knee kept growing, which required the need to amputate her leg.
Huckaby’s reaction after coming out of the surgery that took her leg illustrates what has made her a champion. She explained in the Self video how she and her family viewed the surgery. “We’re not going to look at it as a life-ending option. I’m gonna have a life after this amputation.” She added, “When I woke up…the first thing I said to my parents is I don’t have cancer anymore.”
Huckaby later joined a group of kids who also had amputations on a ski trip and she discovered that snowboarding reminded her of being on a balance beam in her old sport of gymnastics. The rest is history. Huckaby took two snowboarding gold medals at the 2018 Winter Paralympics and gold and bronze medals at the 2022 games.
Watch Huckaby’s Story on Self: