Event Design

‘The Opportunity to Spread Inspiration’

Amy Purdy lost both legs at age 19, and hasn't stopped moving ever since. At PCMA Convening Leaders 2016 next month, she'll share the secret to 'Living Beyond Limits' — including the 'ripple effect' of live events.

PurdyTalk about ending on a high note. In a little more than two weeks, PCMA Convening Leaders 2016 will offer three packed days of programming — culminating with a Closing General Session presentation on “Living Beyond Limits” by Amy Purdy that’s sure to leave you inspired.

It’s an understatement to say that Purdy herself has a problem with limits. After losing both her legs (along with her spleen and both kidneys) to meningococcal meningitis at age 19, she’s gone on to a career as a model, an actress, a champion Paralympic snowboarder, and a runner-up finalist on television’s “Dancing With the Stars.” We asked Purdy, now 36, for a preview of her Convening Leaders appearance.

What will you talk about at PCMA Convening Leaders? I’ll be sharing me! I’ll be sharing my story, and the things from which I drew inspiration to continue living when it appeared I had drawn my last breath. I’ve come to find that inspiration is contagious, so I hope to spread a bit of it at the PCMA event.
What is one takeaway you would like your audience to leave with? Their perception of obstacles. Are they roadblocks or steppingstones?
One of your messages as a speaker and author is about writing — or rewriting — our own stories. Why is that so important? Because I believe passionate vision, vision that is so real you can feel it, is a huge driving force in our lives. I believe we should each write, and follow, our own storyline, guided by whatever we’re most passionate about.
Your audience at Convening Leaders will be people who plan meetings, conferences, trade shows, and other lives events as a career. Is there something in your message about how they might apply stories to their jobs? Definitely. This audience is made up of people whose job it is to create events that impact other people’s lives. There’s a giant ripple effect from the work of people who plan events to the people who attend those events, and then on to the people those people will impact when they return to their respective companies. In those terms, that’s a lot of power to influence. I said before that inspiration is contagious, and I truly believe that. The people attending PCMA have the opportunity to spread inspiration through the quality of speakers they work with and the events they help create.
Last year you spent several months on the road with Oprah Winfrey as part of a speaking tour. What did you learn from that experience? Oprah has an amazing way of putting everyone at ease, because she allows herself to be vulnerable and she shares her challenges and mistakes, which I think most people relate to since we all have our own challenges and mistakes to overcome. I was really inspired by how she is her authentic self onstage as well as off the stage. She’s confident in who she is and owns her challenges, because she knows she grows from them. Working with her really has inspired me to allow my vulnerabilities to come through.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.