When starting a new a career, making a big change, or even facing a new challenge, belief in the possible is crucial. Allowing yourself to be consumed by limitations and doubt can stop you cold. –When we formed Project Eve if we had allowed ourselves to be fixated on uncertainty and the obstacles in our path we surely never would have forged ahead. As a part of our work, we love to celebrate women and men that forge new paths allowing others learn from their examples. With that in mind, Project Eve is thrilled to help Corning® Gorilla® Glass to share their Incredibly Tough video series and feature the story of a woman who responded to her setbacks with fierce determination to transcend expectations and now inspires and empowers others to live a life without limits. The Incredibly Tough video series highlights the amazing stories of incredibly tough people, using incredibly tough devices, to do incredibly tough things.
Gorilla® Glass just recently premiered its video Teaching Tough featuring Sarah Reinertsen. Sarah knew from an early age she was different but hasn’t let her differences and disabilities hold her back. Instead, she’s broken barriers, set records, and demonstrated to anyone watching that you can achieve what most might think is impossible. Sarah was born with a rare bone disorder that made her mobility a challenge from the start. At seven, in the hope that it would give her a better chance at moving freely she had her left leg amputated above the knee. While she concedes she has had dark moments as a result, rather than wallow in them, she chose to focus on what she had: “two strong arms, a strong leg, a great mind, and a really powerful spirit.”
Soon she was figuring out how to get back to the playground to play with all the other kids her age. Although throngs of people cheered Sarah along when she became the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman in Hawaii, as the only kid with a visible disability in her school she struggled. She struggled to fit in, participate in sports, and to be picked for teams in gym class. Looking back, she notes the teasing and taunting she experienced as a little girl, fueled her fire to prove that a woman with a disability could rise to the challenges in one of the world’s toughest endurance sports.
When she was little, it never occurred to Sarah that she could be an athlete however one day she saw a woman complete a 10k race on a prosthetic. Suddenly an entire world of possibilities opened up for Sarah. She began to run at age 11 and competed in her first international track meet at age 13. That same year she broke the record for the 100-meter sprint for female above the knee amputees. Her world record for the 400-meter event still stands today. Thirsty for other ways to show the world what was possible, she set her sights on the Ironman in Hawaii. She was determined to be “the first woman on a prosthetic leg to conquer those 140 miles.” On her first attempt in 2004, she was off to a great start with the swim and a solid transition to the bike, but the headwinds were too much to contend with, and she missed the time cutoff to participate in the run. She felt broken but also all the more determined to prove that she could meet the challenge next time. The next year she trained harder and smarter and sailed across the finish line to become the first woman to complete the Ironman on Hawaii with a prosthetic leg. Sarah says, in many ways, she is still that little seven-year-old girl trying to prove she can live outside any expectations the world has for her.
When Sarah isn’t training and competing, you’ll find her mentoring, speaking at events, and conducting fitness clinics for amputees. She takes her position as role model for other kids very seriously because it was such a pivotal difference in her own life. Sarah leads by example. What an extraordinary example she has set!
A special thank you to Corning Incorporated for sponsoring this post.
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