Having one leg is no challenge for surfer who inspires others

A surfer is proving that limitations are only in your mind, and he's getting ready to compete on the world stage.  When you hear Shawnie Whitaker explain why he fell in love with surfing, it's easy to understand how much it means to him. "It's my church, you know, great place to be," he said.  Now, Whitaker will be representing Florida and his country at the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship.

Whitaker was involved in a major car accident as a teenager, nearly three decades ago. "I was in a coma for 278 days, three-and-a-half months, and woke up and looked down and I was stuck to the IVs and I was in the hospital, and Ii looked down, and I was missing a leg."  He had his spleen removed, left leg amputated, and doctors gave him initially a 10 percent chance to live. They also told him he would absolutely never are surf again.  But Whitaker did survive, and with huge encouragement from family and friends, got back up on his board. A generous doctor outfitted are Whitaker with a special prosthetic leg that is waterproof and easily moves, so he can get back on the board again and back to surfing,  In doing so, he provides inspiration to others.

"It's emotional, you know. When someone trusts in you -- in some sort of way, it's an honor for one, you know."

Whitaker heads to California next week to compete against other surfers with physical challenges. People often ask Whitaker if he could go back to the day of the accident, bring his leg back, would he? He says, "No." 

"I look at December 16th 1999, the best day of my life. My loss is actually a gain. I lost half my leg, but I gained so much back, I believe."

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Having one leg is no challenge for surfer who inspires others
  • 4-year-old with autism becomes honorary Wawa general manager
  • Sextuplets thriving after delivery at Virginia hospital
  • Student's service dog gets own headshot in class yearbook
  • NTSB: Small plane was late in turning before crash
  • GOP candidate charged with misdemeanor assault of reporter
  • Kidnapping chase involving children in RV ends with fire
  • Video appears to show Texas officer striking teenage girl
  • Florida woman shocked to find python in laundry
  • FDA: Controller for heart pump recalled over deaths