The Huffington Post's Game Changers series celebrates 100 innovators, visionaries, and leaders in 12 categories who, whether working in the spotlight or under the radar, are changing how we look at the world and the way we live in it. We salute them for their willingness to look at things and take the risk of saying, "I think I have a better way." Changed the game by ... staying a step ahead, even while missing a leg. Palmiero-Winters, age 37, and Hughes, age 8, are both below-the-knee amputees who have received artificial legs from the cutting-edge company, A Step Ahead. They are accomplished runners who embody the ways in which disabilities have become merely an obstacle to athletic triumph. In 2009, Palmiero-Winters's success as an ultra-marathoner (she runs more than 100 miles at a time) won her the James Sullivan award for best amateur athlete in the United States, and this past spring she became the first amputee to make the U.S. World Track Team. Hughes is just one example of the next generation of amputee runners, a successful triathlete on the junior circuit. Despite being one of the youngest competitors in the Aspire 5k/10K in Plainview, New York, at age 7 she finished the 5k in third place.
At the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City, Billie Jean King, Women’s Sports Foundation Founder, and Mary Carillo, sportscaster and former professional tennis player, hosted the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 31st Annual Salute to Women in Sports awards dinner. Sports fans and champion athletes from Jessica Mendoza and Laila Ali to Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Kwan gathered to recognize and honor talented female athletes who, through their accomplishments, have been inspiring role models for girls and women worldwide. As part of the celebration, Women’s Sports Foundation CEO Kathryn Olson, announced that the foundation has been chosen as the “Official Charity of espnW,” the soon-to-be-launched digital arm of ESPN that will serve, inform and inspire the female athlete and fan.
Courage comes from the heart. Courage is what we show when were faced with challenges. Wilma Rudolf embodied the word courage and for me to be the recipient of this years womens sports foundations Wilma Rudolph Courage award to me is a lifetime honor not only for my self but for my children and the people who support me. Sports as a young child helped build the foundation of who I am today and I hope because of this and what I have experienced we can make a difference and help others to be more courageous in their every day lives.
Recently I was invited and had the opportunity to attend and speak at the espnW retreat in La Jolla California at the Torrey Pines Lodge. This two-day retreat helped set the female sports agenda for espnW. espnW is a platform to help cultivate sports conversation for women, highlighting the importance of role models in sports. How sports can shape our lives. I have always championed the cause of women in sports, sports played a very important role for me when I was growing up as a child. I use my story and love for sports to help others see that they too can push past their obstacles. Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself and have the courage to dream and espnW is a great platform to help others see this.