Brenna Huckaby, who lost her right leg to cancer, is now fulfilling her dream to compete in the Paralympics as she travels to PyeongChang, South Korea as a member of the US national team.
The 22-year-old was a promising gymnast when life threw a curveball and she had to shift to snowboarding at age 15. She managed to exceed expectations and is now actually a favorite to win goal in two events.
Huckaby told USA Today that it was always her goal to participate in the Paralympics the first time she heard there was an event like it. While that always seemed like a shot in the dark, the first time she realized that her dream was achievable was when she placed third in the 2014 national championships.
“I said, ‘huh, there’s something to this. I’m not just daydreaming about that podium. This could be a thing,’” she said.
Huckaby was only 10 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. She has been complaining about lingering pain on her right knee and so they had to see a doctor to have it checked out. The doctors told her parents that they had to amputate the leg to save her life.
Although she also tried other sports to keep her preoccupied, she fell in love with snowboarding when she tried it in Park City, Utah. The family eventually moved to Utah so she could pursue her passion for the sport through the National Ability Center, which helped her navigate through her prosthetic leg.
Huckaby recounted that she was “horrible” when she was just starting but she loved the challenge. Snowboarding also rekindled that competitive fire in her.
“Once I got the right equipment and the right snowboarding prosthetic, that’s when I saw my incline. I just saw myself getting better,” she said. “Obviously when you’re getting better, it’s so much more exciting.”