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Chris Ridgway to defend his X Games gold in Moto X Super X amputee event

Chris Ridgway on his way to victory at last week's Extremity Games in Michigan.Chris Ridgway has become an unintentional inspiration to many.

But don't remind him of that. He's just doing what he enjoys, and if it motivates others, so be it.

It's not just his riding abilities that inspire people, but also his positive attitude. 

Chris is an amputee, and competes wearing a prosthetic left leg.

The Apple Valley resident will be defending his title in the Moto X Super X Adaptive event Friday at the Home Depot Center as part of X Games 15. The final will be televised on ESPN between 5-8 p.m.

Sustaining severe injuries to both legs in 1995 after a motorcycle malfunction during a practice session, Chris was rushed to the emergency room.

"The doctors told me that they would have to amputate the first night I was in the hospital, and I begged them not to; to give me a chance because I heal well," Chris, 38, said.

He left the hospital with both legs, but still suffered.

"I was in tremendous pain and still racing," he said. "In 1999 I had the points lead in the U.S. Hot Rod Off-Road Series and my leg broke again.  I ended up finishing third in points."

Chris was confined to a wheelchair for the better part of two years, except for when competing and wearing the riding boots that helped stabilize his leg. But he stayed positive.

"I never got down. I was racing and knew what I was getting into."

Doctors told Ridgway that he would have to change his lifestyle, as every step he took caused agonizing pain.

When at an event in Phoenix, Chris saw what he wanted to do, thanks to a delivery person in the pits.

"I was sitting with a fellow racer and we saw this Budweiser delivery guy. My buddy points to him and says, 'That's what you need.' I thought he was talking about the keg of beer until I noticed he [the delivery man] was wearing a full prosthesis. It woke me up when I noticed that he was walking better than I had been in five years."

"I started asking doctors to amputate and they wouldn't. I basically was on the last doctor and threatened to take it off myself by shooting myself in the foot in their parking lot, because I didn't want to spend my life on pain medication."

The doctor agreed to do as Chris requested, without his resorting to the drastic measure. His left leg was amputated in 2002.

Chris after winning gold at X Games 14.Ridgway continued racing, even though he didn't have the money to buy a prosthesis, landing a job racing cars for Emory Motorsports in Oregon. Team members did some research and told Chris about Limbs for Life, a nonprofit organization that buys prosthetic limbs for amputees who can't afford them.

"Thanks to Limbs for Life, I've been able to reach my goals both personally and professionally," Ridgway said.

"I spend time talking to people on the fence and try to help them out. I'd like to be more of a counselor to those who have also lost limbs. It's a very big mental hurdle, but motocross prepped me pretty well for it because it's like just another injury and not that big a deal."

Chris certainly sounds like a motivational speaker, but doesn't like lofty titles thrown his way.

"I get a little tired of the word 'inspirational' directed toward me, because I don't feel I should be put on a pedestal. I just want to help people get through it. My goal is to show doctors and others that it is a quality of life issue, and that they shouldn't be so hesitant to amputate."

Chris continues to be successful in his racing career. He just won the Extremity Games for the third consecutive year, and after the X Games he'll be racing for the Trent Fabrication team in an off-road truck race in Grand Junction, Colo.

Chris doesn't let anything slow him down, nor does he have any trepidation.

"Showering is the most dangerous thing I do these days."

--Kelly Burgess

Photos: Top: Chris Ridgway on his way to victory at last week's Extremity Games in Michigan. Credit: Corey Bixby. Bottom: Chris after winning gold at X Games 14. Courtesy of Limbs for Life

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Comments (13)

I actually had the chance to meet Chris and he is probably one of the nicest people I have ever met... We had a Bronco that was professionally built and had history in the Baja 1000 but we didn't have the time or money to put a new engine so we sold it and he found us on craigslist and bought it from us because he was getting into the Baja 1000 and was going to use it... The day he came to pick it up I got to meet him and he's not like other famous motocross racers who can be docks and just put you off.... He actually wanted to talk to me and he was very nice... I told him that someday I wanted to become a professional racer and what I should do to achieve that goal and he told me just keep your head up no matter what happens you keep trying don't let anything stand in your way... And I have been raicing dirtbikes since I was 5 and riding them since I was 2...

your are so cool and a inspier to me and my friend just keep what u a doing are don't slow down

Dan,
you might want to contact Limbs for Life, which helped Chris. Their website is http://www.limbsforlife.org/~limbsfor/ and there is a contact link at the upper right-hand side of the home page.
Best of luck, and thanks for reading, and commenting!
Kelly

I shattered the tailus bone in my left ankle in 2006. I lived in pain for 3 yrs. and went through 3 different surgeries trying to repair my ankle. The surgeries were not working, so I to found a Dr. that agreed I would have a better quality of life with a prosthetic. I have been unable to find a prosthetasist that can make me a prosthesis that will allow me to reach my shifter, and hold up to the stress of riding motocross. And at 15-$20,000 a pop I can't afford to experament. Can you help me get in touch with Chris Ridgway or his prosthetasist? I am dying to ride my bike again!

Chris, You are the Man!!!! Great job. I look forward to hearing you speak at the Limbs for Life Benefit in 2010.

Yeah, Ridgeway is definitely competitive. It should be awesome to watch him tear-it-up using his ware at X Games. Those guys are even more fierce than common X Gamers: they've faced ugly injuries and STILL they compete.

Kelly, Great Story!! Just everyday people making the world a better place!!

Wow,
I think that's great Kelly. Really enjoyed your blog on this amazing guy, Chris, who's doing what he loves most - racing. Keep up the great work! Look forward to reading more on this thrill seekers. LInda

Great inspirational story, well written by Kelly Burgess.

Great article. It is motivating to see someone experience success after facing such a hardship. Just goes to show you....if you want to do something bad enough, nothing can get in your way.

That is awesome!!! Sounds like he has some really good friends who helped guide him. that is pretty sweet!

interesting and motivational, Great story!

Passion = Drive
Great story!!


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