Sometimes being brave is what gets us through. Facing the unknown and facing unknown possibilities down the line is familiar to any of us living with a disability.
Maybe no one understands that better than Rudy Garcia-Tolson, who made the decision to have both of his legs amputated above the knee when he was only five years old.
Born with legs that weren’t able to support him and allow him to function properly, Rudy wanted more than anything to be as active as his brothers and sisters were. When he was faced with the decision of whether or not he wanted to amputate his legs at such a young age, Rudy had such a unique perspective on the choice that his perseverance and wisdom are striking –
“At that point, it was easy for me. I just looked up at my mom and said, “Let’s do it; let’s cut my legs off.”…When I was born, I had chains around my legs…and as soon as I had my legs amputated, they were gone, and I was able to live a full life.” Rudy Garcia-Tolson
After that surgery and being fitted with prosthetic legs, he never stopped being active. He was able to play outside with his siblings and friends. He eventually was able to compete in the Paralympics four times. The first time he competed there, at age 15, he won the gold medal and set a world record time in swimming. He is also a triathlete, having competed in a number of triathlons and IronMan triathlons.
And Rudy is only 28. When we asked him about future plans, he said he plans to compete in the 2020 Paralympics, which will likely be his fifth and final time. He also spoke of his love of motivational speaking, which he hopes to have more time for. He especially enjoys speaking to kids, and showcasing how differences shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of; rather, your differences may be your own unique route to excellence.
The courage to embrace our differences and to use them as fuel to our success is something we are so thankful that Rudy shared with us. Please check out his website at www.rudygarciatolson.com