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Dancing With The Stars: Role Models Diana Nyad and Amy Purdy Take Stage

Hit show Dancing with the Stars’ new season starts Monday with a dynamic lineup – two Olympic gold medalists, a game show host, a teen pop star, and numerous actors and actresses. The debut of the show’s 18th season comes during Women’s History Month, and we’ll be cheering on two contestants who we think are clear models for young people of this year’s theme: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.

Diana Nyad

She is best known as the first person to swim the 100.86 miles from Cuba to Florida in 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds. The 64-year-old achieved her longtime dream by showing us persistence and faith can lead to achievement. Her three words of advice after her completing her journey certainly apply to her Dancing With The Stars role:

“One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

Partnering with Henry Byalikov, there’s no telling what Nyad is capable of if she puts her mind to it.

Amy Purdy

She had a typical childhood until losing her legs at 19 as a result of Meningitis, which has led to an adulthood of extraordinary accomplishments. Purdy is competing in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, on March 14, only three days before her Dancing With The Stars debut. She is the top ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S. and three-time World Cup Para-snowboard winner. Purdy is the Co-Founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization which helps disabled youth, adults and wounded veterans get involved in action sports. AAS was instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Partnering with Derek Hough, we have no doubt that Purdy will be a strong contender on Dancing With The Stars, as she has been her whole life.

Although we wish the best of luck to all contestants, we’re pulling for these two because of their extraordinary determination and tenacity. These role models demonstrate the importance of continuing to write women into history that our children can look up to.

Image credit: “Mirror Ball Amsterdam” by rozzo/CC by 2.0 license

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Brittany Marklin

Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.

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