You just never know when your life may turn on a dime. Almost 19-year-old Amberley Snyder didn’t when she glanced down at her road map and lost control of her truck. In an instant she broke her back and faced starting life again from a wheelchair.
I was honored last week to talk with Amberley, now 28, while she was on the road in Texas competing as America’s only paralyzed barrel racer. You see, Amberley, chose to bend instead of break when she could no longer feel or use her body from the waist down. This daughter of a former Major League Baseball pitcher stepped up to the plate and hit a home run in how she decided to turn her tragedy into triumph.
“Whole Different World and Perspective”
Instead of turning inward with anger or bitterness after her accident, Amberley chose not to let her physical challenges hold her back. She pressed on to accomplish her goal of getting back in the saddle and living life fully. When I asked Amberley what her disability has taught her about living life well, she told me, “It’s taught me a lot of compassion and a lot of patience. I think it’s those experiences that shape us into being who we are, all the way to the depths of ourselves. That what it’s done for me. All this has opened my eyes and my heart to a whole different world and perspective.”
Today, Amberley is an accomplished rodeo professional and a motivational speaker. And, she is the star of a new Netflix movie about her remarkable recovery and resiliency. The film, Walk. Ride. Rodeo. releases today, and I encourage you to watch it.
In our interview, Amberley and I connected a bit about my growing up riding and showing my friend’s quarter horses. I love horses and riding, but barrel racing was and is a bit too fast for me. Without control of half of her body, Amberley is out-of-this-world amazing to balance and lean in on her horse like she does at quick-fire speeds. Wowzer!
Inspiration for Your own Life
In researching Amberley’s story, I read that she relied on her faith to make her comeback from her life-altering injuries. So we concluded our conversation with her thoughts on finding meaning and purpose in our most challenging times. You and I may not be dealing with the same mobility challenges as Amberley, but we too have obstacles and stressors than can leave either define us or refine us.
“I lean on knowing God has a purpose for us, that he has a plan for all of us. I cannot imagine living life thinking this is the end of our story when our life ends. It helps to know that this isn’t the end and we have a purpose to serve,” Amberley shared. “I’m hoping that I will get more opportunities to advocate for making things more accessible for those in a chair or with some sort of physical challenge. I hope that that film serves a purpose for people, as well. I feel like that makes life easier when you know you’re here for a reason.”
Well said, Amberley, well said. I invite you to click here to read my “Turning Tragedy into Triumph” article about Amberley’s inspiring story.