Inspirational Stories of Success

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Amy Purdy overcame a partial leg amputation to become an award winning adaptive snowboarder. (Click to enlarge)

Sidney DeBoer, executive chairman of Lithia Motors, Ashland, Ore., and Amy Purdy, who overcame a partial leg amputation to become an award winning adaptive snowboarder, brought the final general session of the NADA Convention to a rousing close.

DeBoer, who is also dealer principal of Lithia Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, worked in many positions at the dealership starting as the office manager. His dad’s death in the late 1960s thrust him into the role of running the dealership.

“I made 35 sales that first month,” he said, noting his dad had served as the chief salesperson prior to his death. “Those sales made me strong. They gave me the strength I needed to go on.”

It was soon after that turbulent time that DeBoer spearheaded the drive to take the dealership public. Today the company—now led by his son Bryan DeBoer—sells 30 brands in 153 stores located across 17 states.

“People can do a lot more than they think they can,” he said. His company’s success “came about due to a decision I made one day after a tragedy. You can do anything anyone else can if you put your mind to it.”

Purdy offered another example of rising to meet a challenge after losing the bottom half of each leg to bacterial meningitis when she was 19.

“I was physically and emotionally destroyed,” she said of her road to recovery. “But I realized that in order to move forward, I had to let go of the ‘old Amy.’ ”

Purdy beat the odds of survival after being given a 2 percent chance of survival but went on to return to competitive sports. Among her many accomplishments, she has been a world-class snowboarder, Paralympic bronze medalist, a Dancing with the Starsfinalist and professional motivational speaker.

“If you life was written like a book, how would you want it to end?” she asked the audience. “That’s the question that changed my life.”