Former Waco beauty queen who lost leg earns snowboarding scholarship, has eyes set on Paralympics
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A former local beauty queen who lost her leg in an accident while stopping to help a motorist in 2021 continues to defy the odds less than a year after her life-changing ordeal, by snowboarding in Park City, Utah for the rest of the winter with a goal of qualifying for the Paralympics in Milan, Italy, in 2026.
Jamie Blanek, 32, of Waco, is living in Utah after being selected for a scholarship from the National Ability Center for its adaptive snowboarding program.
Snowboarding again is a goal Jamie has had since almost losing her life on February 6, 2021 when she was struck by a vehicle after she stopped to help victims of a crash at Chapel Road and Old Lorena Road west of Hewitt.
Doctors weren’t sure Jamie would survive.
“It was very scary. It was a terrible, terrible memory, but at that moment, I heard what will change my life forever and has changed my life and it’s that you’ve had an amputation,” she said.
Jamie lost her right leg above the knee and suffered multiple injuries, including a skull fracture.
“When I was laying in the ICU, I had this goal of getting to snowboard again,” Blanek said. “You never know what you’re going to be able to do and what you’re not going to be able to do when something that serious happens.”
Jamie has defied all odds.
She spent just three weeks in the hospital. She’s recovered from six surgeries and she’s walked again with the help of a prosthetic leg. She also works out routinely.
Jamie has long had a passion for snowboarding and tried planning a snowboarding trip when COVID shut the world down in 2020 just before her accident.
“I remember when I first met my surgeon in the ICU and had a conversation with him. I told him I was very active and that I was a snowboarder and I wanted to be able to do all the things I used to,” Jamie recalled.
In September, Jamie entered a 10-week program at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Carrolton in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
She spent nine weeks training in Texas and regaining strength and, on her tenth week, she traveled to Utah to the National Ability Center for activities like archery, mountain biking, rock wall climbing, pickle ball and snow sports.
That’s when Jamie first reached her goal of getting back on a snowboard.
“My first time snowboarding was on my birthday, Dec. 7,” Jamie said.
Jamie later applied for a scholarship with the National Ability Center for its adaptive snowboarding program and was selected.
She’s now there living in Utah through the end of March and snowboarding with an instructor three days a week.
Jamie said she’s hopeful her training will put her in the mix to quality for Team USA and then, hopefully, the Paralympics in 2026.
It’s a big goal, she says, but overcoming the odds is nothing new for the determined beauty queen.
“I just want people to know that even if something really bad happens, that you can do anything,” Jamie said. “You just have to find the right place to go, set the goal, do the work. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.”
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