Paralympian Amy Purdy and her Dancing With the Stars partner Derek Hough performed a heartfelt and tear-jerking dance on last night’s show.
This season’s episode three required that the dancers choose their most memorable years and then use those experiences to create their dances. Purdy selected 1999, the year in which she contracted bacterial meningitis.
In her battle with the disease, Purdy had both legs amputated. She also lost kidney function, so much so that her father donated one of his to help her. She dedicated the dance to him.
Hough and Purdy danced fittingly to Christina Perri’s “Only Human.” The pair recreated Purdy’s struggle to walk after receiving her prosthetic legs, and how she eventually overcame the obstacles to compete in the Paralympics.
The show assigned Hough and Purdy to dance in the contemporary style. Dancers typically perform while barefoot and are required to point their toes in contemporary. Purdy’s usual prosthetics feature flat feet, however, which impede the dance. The snowboarder found a special pair of prostheses with pointed feet for the dance. She had to learn how to dance and balance on the new legs and feet.
Watch the performance, here:
This episode is also the first time Purdy has shown her exposed legs. The contestant was wearing a flowing skirt that bared her thighs from time to time. Viewers could see the black stockings she wore over the ends of her legs where the prosthetics attach, as well as the complete prostheses.
As expected, the judges were completely blown away by the performance, as was Purdy’s father, who was crying in the audience. The athlete walked over to him after the dance and gave him a hug.
“There won’t be a dry eye in the country tonight,” stated judge Bruno Tonioli. “Borderline miraculous.”
Guest judge Robin Roberts was equally impressed. “I hope you know what you are doing for people,” she said. “Anyone who is facing a challenge, you let them know they can begin again.”
Twitter also showed its support for Purdy:
— Sharna Burgess (@SharnaBurgess) April 1, 2014
— Team Amy & Derek (@AmyPurdyDWTS) April 1, 2014
— DWTStars (@DWTStars) April 1, 2014
— Christi Clark (@Chesnie0514) April 1, 2014
The pair scored 36 points out of 40.
Image via Dancing With the Stars, Twitter