It’s been decades since Jami’s rescue and her experiences remain just as powerful and just as inspiring. Her journey has been well-chronicled – articles, books and countless television appearances, paint a vivid picture of a woman overcoming tremendous obstacles with grit and resilience to live a life without limitations.
Today, she is an author, athlete, motivational speaker and double amputee. Here is her story.
In December 1987, Jami and her good friend Lisa were stranded during a brutal snowstorm in the Arizona desert. Eleven days later, they were found dehydrated and near starving. Both women would fall victim to severe frostbite. For Jami, that would mean battling gangrene and eventual amputation of both legs below the knee. Within a matter of days, Jami’s life was up ended as she experienced grief, sadness and loss. At 19, that loss would spark a newfound passion: running. As she famously described in her book, Up and Running:
“When I realized that my only hope for relief was to change my frame of mind, I started viewing pain as an annoyance that I could work with. I was built to keep moving forward and I did, even though it was a constant test to rise above the pain of the day.”
Over the next several years, Jami began an aggressive physical therapy routine, incorporated nutrition and wellness and learned how to walk again with the aid of prosthetics. But that was just the beginning.
“I was watching the 1996 Paralympic Games and decided then to become a professional Paralympic runner,” said Jami. From that moment on, she became a runner. Buoyed by a strong family support network and fitted with her now well-recognized prosthetic running blades, she began a rigorous training regime that would ultimately lead her to join the US Paralympic Track and Field team and later compete in several triathlons, marathons and more.
On October 11, 2015 Jami became the first bi-lateral below knee female amputee to finish ANY marathon (Chicago Marathon), and on April 18, 2016 she became the first bi-lateral below knee female amputee to finish the Boston Marathon.
As a wife, mother, teacher, philanthropist – and now, cancer-survivor – Jami’s story serves as a remarkable testament to the power of hope, strength and gratitude.
“Overcoming is living your life full of love, passion and perseverance.”