A sporty woman opted to have both her legs amputated after a disability left her wheelchair-bound – and is now training to compete in the Paralympics.
Taylor Layle, 22, was born with a condition called club foot which caused her feet to be turned in – which grew more and more severe over her teenage years.
By the age of 16, it reached a point where she had to begin using a wheelchair and eventually had to give up playing sports due to the pain.
Doctors warned Taylor that she would need corrective surgery, but despite several surgeries throughout 2017, the condition continued to worsen.
So over 2018 and 2019, brave Taylor bit the bullet and opted to have BOTH her legs amputated in a bid to get her active life back.
In 2020, she finally got the prosthetic limbs that would allow this to happen – and now she is training to be a Paralympic snowboarder.
Taylor, from Clemson, South Carolina, said: “I had a normal childhood and was very active, but I had no idea that my feet were breaking down.
“It got worse and worse – to the point that by the time I was 17 if I tried to stand or walk I would pass out from the pain.
“It halted my entire life – I couldn’t get a job or walk and was living with my parents – so amputation would give me the best chance of living pain-free.
“It was a hard and painful process, but two years later I got my prosthetics.
“I remember my first steps with my prosthetics and thinking to myself that it was my first time in years taking a step that wasn’t agony.
“I spotted a post on Instagram about a snowboarding club for people in prosthetics – it sounded amazing.
“I got the hang of it so quickly and it was the most amazing feeling – now I’m hoping to compete in the 2026 Winter Paralympics.”
Communications student Taylor told how her club foot was managed as a child by medication which allowed her to have a “normal childhood”.
She recalled playing lots of sports such as basketball until the age of around 14, at which point she began suffering from tendonitis and arthritis.
But she didn’t realize how severe things had grown to be until she saw a doctor – who told her it was only going to get worse.
She said: “The pain depended on what I did – eventually I couldn’t make it through basketball practice.
“By 16, I was in a wheelchair because I would pass out from the pain if I tried to stand up or walk.”
She had several smaller surgeries in her teens in a bid to control her worsening pain to the point that she had to skip high school – just months from when she was supposed to graduate.
Taylor recalled people “not believing it” when she told them about her condition because she had been fine in her childhood – and would be accused of skipping school due to laziness.
“I’d been a straight-A student and I loved school,” she said. “But people thought I just didn’t care anymore.”
Eventually, doctors mentioned amputation – which was the only option left that might allow Taylor to one day live pain-free again.
Taylor agreed – and she underwent a below-the-knee amputation of her right leg in July 2018.
Following the major surgery, she experienced phantom pain as well as a difficult healing process that took weeks of bed rest.
The following summer she had her second amputation – an equally difficult process – and she spent a long time in her wheelchair with no alternative.
But in March 2020, as the world went into lockdown, Taylor experienced the most freedom she’d had in years – getting her prosthetic legs.
She said: “The healing process after my amputations was awful – I started to have doubts if it was worth it.
“But when I got my prosthetics it all made sense – I took my first step and thought ‘so that’s what it’s supposed to feel like.
“That was my first step in years that didn’t hurt – it was a relieving and exciting moment.”
She spent months learning how to use her prosthetic legs again and began running through a list of all her favorite things to do, and re-doing them with prosthetics.
This list included rollerblading, soccer, and ice skating – which she managed to do with ease.
But when she saw a post on Instagram about a group of coaches training amputees to snowboard with their prosthetics, she immediately got in touch.
In November 2021, she was out on the slopes for the first time in years – and her first-ever time with prosthetics.
She said: “I felt awesome. As the days went on I really got the hang of it.
“Because I hadn’t done sports properly in so long, it felt amazing to be doing it again.”
Incredibly, after just a few months of snowboarding, she is now in training for the 2026 Paralympics in Italy.
The budding sports star says amputation is the best decision she ever made – and can do things now she thought she’d never do again.
Taylor said: “I never expected my life to go in this direction, but this has been amazing.
“Now I can be active again and I have developed this whole different outlook which means I feel much more positive.
“There are so many misconceptions about amputation – it can be a hurdle, but it doesn’t mean your life is over.
“It’s an obstacle for you to overcome and remember what you can achieve if you push through it.
“I love where I’m at in my life now – my amputations have allowed me to live again.”