Brazilian athlete and bilateral lower-limb amputee Adriele Silva, 31, looks forward to crossing the finish line at mile 26.2 of the 2018 TCS New York City (NYC) Marathon on Sunday, November 4.
“I hope to inspire people when they see me run and challenge them to go after things that seem unachievable,” said Silva, who will be running her first full marathon. “Where I come from, people often look down on you for having a disability, but I don’t think about that. When I face a challenge, I look for ways to overcome it. I see the possibilities and that keeps me going.”
Silva will run as an outdoor ambassador for ADRA Connections, a volunteer program managed by the global charity the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), and she will also be supported by U.S. outdoor and sporting goods company, The North Face.
Silva’s road to the New York City Full Marathon began in 2012 when she went to a local hospital in her hometown of Jundiai, Brazil, after feeling severe pain. After receiving pain medications, she was sent home. Overnight her situation worsened, and she returned to the hospital the next day to find out that a kidney stone had clogged her urinary tract and caused an infection. Within hours, Silva was in an induced coma.
For 20 days, she remained comatose, her body fighting a losing battle against the infection. During that time, the infection led to a lack of blood circulation in her legs. To save her life, it was necessary to amputate her legs. When she was finally cleared of the infection after 64 days, the now bilateral amputee left the hospital to learn to live again.
“Before the amputation, I had no desire to run,” she said. “After it happened, I started getting more interested. I wanted to become normal again.”
Since then, Silva has taken up running, cycling, swimming, and other sports. She has participated in 20 running races in Brazil and in China where she recently completed the Great Wall Half Marathon in 2018. In 2017, she was the first female bilateral amputee to run the Ironman in Brazil. In addition, she remains the only bilateral amputee in Brazil to run the 100-yard dash, a record she set—and still holds—while wearing walking prostheses. She is also making plans to learn to snowboard to compete in a Paralympics event. Silva trains every day and continues physical therapy to hone her ability to run in her prostheses.
“It’s an honor to be part of such a great competition in New York and to run with so many other good runners who have come to compete from many parts of the world,” said Silva. “Though I haven’t won a race yet, I feel great knowing that I have the potential to run the distance, and that already makes me a champion.”
Silva also plans to run The North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco before returning to Brazil. She will have several speaking engagements at universities and faith-based communities to raise awareness about disabilities and encourage people to become active in sports and service.
To watch a video about Silva, visit https://youtu.be/WdlStY0MLD4.
This article was adapted from information provided by ADRA International.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article stated that the organizers of the NYC Marathon believe Silva may be the first female double amputee to complete the marathon. Amplitude removed this statement because that belief has been disputed.