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Brenna Huckaby

The Paralympic Gold Medalist Turned Model

When an osteosarcoma diagnosis in 2010 resulted in the amputation of her right leg, Brenna Huckaby found her calling. A month after her amputation surgery, the former gymnast got her first prosthetic leg and moved from Louisiana to Salt Lake City to become a snowboarder. Fast forward and Huckaby is now a two-time Paralympic gold-medalist, and adds two more positions to that already impressive résumé: mother and swimsuit model. Yes, Huckaby walked in this past summer’s Sports Illustrated runway show. In fact, she’s the first Paralympian ever to be featured on the pages of the SI Swimsuit Issue, and she was asked not only to walk in the runway show but to open it.

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“My biggest and best accomplishment is giving birth to and raising my daughter, Lilah. My next biggest accomplishment is winning my Paralympic gold medals. The significance of winning those medals was to show Lilah that no matter what happens in life, if you work hard, you can live a full and amazing life.”

What’s something you’d like people to know about you or your job that they probably don’t?

“I don’t think people realize how much mental strength it takes to be a professional athlete. I would say it becomes more of a mental game than a physical one the higher in competition you go. I have to train my mind as much as my body, sometimes more, to succeed. It takes a lot of work and time, but it really makes a huge difference!”

What does being a woman mean to you today?

“I love being a woman. I love myself, and I think more women should not only be confident enough to say those words but should also want to say those words. We are awesome, powerful and strong, and it’s more than OK to say it! I am proud to be a part of a generation in which women are showcasing their strengths, building each other up and overcoming obstacles that women of previous generations could only dream of. We are paving an even more fulfilling future for our children, and it is humbling to be a part of this movement.”

Habit that has changed your life?

“I make it a point to stay organized. It only takes a few extra minutes each night to get everything for the next day laid out and ready to go. I also create to-do lists or lists of things I need to remember to research. I have a lot of lists, and I prioritize them the night before so I make sure I complete what needs to be done the next day.”

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That game face though 🙈 📸@theimagesniper

A post shared by Brenna Huckaby (@bren_hucks) on

Desert island question: If you could bring only three things, what would they be?

“For fun things it would be coconut oil, Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning and ground coffee beans. I can use the coconut oil for sunscreen and moisturizer or to cook up food. Tony’s because it’s delicious on everything. And coffee because I can’t live without it. However, I feel like if I were really being dropped off on a desert island, it would be more survival tools.”

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