Amy Palmiero-Winters is a professional athlete, career-woman, mother and the founder of the One Step Ahead Foundation. After losing her left leg below the knee due to a motorcycle accident that occurred in 1994, Amy compiled a tremendous portfolio of world records and firsts for a female amputee in marathons, ultramarathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons. As she attained more and more achievements, she found herself in the position of being a role model, especially for young people with physical disabilities of their own. She soon found herself working extensively with children, introducing them to sports and athletics as a way of helping them overcome their physical limitations. After several years, Amy founded the One Step Ahead Foundation in order to provide even more opportunities for children with physical disabilities.
Amy Palmiero-Winters has competed in track and distance running from a young age. She ran track and cross country in high school and even making deliveries for her family's restaurant. In 1994, however, Amy was forced to put away the running shoes when she was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed her left leg. Amy and her doctors tried everything to keep her leg intact including skin and artery grafts, and nearly 30 surgeries over three years. As her ankle began to fuse, however, her foot was barely functional and she opted for an amputation. Following the amputation, Amy set out to get back to running, which has taken her through countless marathons, triathlons, Ironman triathlons and some of the world's most extreme races.
In 2004, despite being five months pregnant and running on a prosthetic leg only meant for walking, she finished second in her division. She went onto placed third in her division at the 2005 New York City Triathlon and win the Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii. At this point, Amy decided to engage in running on a more serious level. After obtaining a highly-customized prosthetic leg, from A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Hicksville New York she then broke the world record in 2006 at the Cleveland marathon for a below-knee female amputee by more than twenty-five minutes. She followed this up by running the 2006 Chicago Marathon in 3:04, which stands as the best marathon time for a female below-knee amputee.
In 2009, Amy decided to switch from marathons to the more demanding ultra marathons, which are races of more than fifty miles.She ran ten ultra marathons between 2009 and 2010, finishing first in the female division at the Heartland 100 Mile in October, 2009 and finishing first overall at the Arizona Road Racers Run to the Future twenty-four-hour race on December 31, 2009 by running 130.4 miles during the allotted time. It was the first time an amputee had won an ultra marathon outright.
After this performance, Amy was named to the US ultra running team for the IAU 24-Hour Ultramarathon World Championships in Brive, France. It was the first, and only time an amputee had been named to a United States able-bodied championship team. On May 17, 2010, she finished 18th in the female division at the World Championships, running 123.99 miles.
In 2010, Amy took 1st place in her division in the New York City Triathlon, 3rd place female at the The Ultracentric 24hr race and 1st place female at The Long Haul 100mi Race.
Amy currently holds 13 world records in various running and endurance events. In 2010, she was awarded the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States and the ESPN ESPY Award as the top female athlete with a disability in the world. Also in 2010, Amy received the Women's Sports Foundation Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, the Challenges Athletes Foundation Trail Blazer Award, the Huffington Post Game Changer Award and the USA Strength Award.
In 2011, Amy became the first female amputee to finish the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is described as "the world's toughest foot race". It is a 135-mile course starting at 282 feet below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California's Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trail head to Mount Whitney. She had a finish time of 41:26:42. In 2011, Amy was the first amputee to run the Reykjavik, Iceland Marathon. During her time in Iceland, Amy was honored with the 2011 Ossur Ultimate Athlete Award.
In 2012, Amy went on to complete Badwater Ultramarathon a second time cutting over 4 hours off of her blazing time set the year before. Yet again, merely a few months later, while running the 10k portion of a triathlon for her relay team she set another world record.
In February 2014, Amy completed Ultraman Florida. This performance during the 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile Bike and 52.4 mile run earned her yet another world record for female para-athletes. Later that same year, Amy was the first para-athlete to complete the 2014 Obstacle Racing World Championships, a mandatory obstacle completion format, earning her second place in her age group.
As an AGOGE and two time Death Race Finisher, Summer 2014 and Summer 2018, Amy continues to push the boundaries of what is perceived as a limit. Durning the 2018 Death Race, 36 hours into the event after countless miles, task and 3500 burpees, Amy set the longest distance crawled under barbed wire for 12 consecutive hours for both female and para-athletes.
She also participated in the 2018 Spartan Para-World Championships where she spent much of her time assisting her team to complete something they did not think possible.
Current plans for 2019 include the Marathon des Sables, a 156 mile, 6 day staged race in the Sahara Desert becoming the first female amputee to complete the race. In addition she plans to attend both Half Marathon des Sables in Peru and Spain.