Here's Rudy's story.
Rudy lives by a simple motto: A Brave Heart is a Powerful Weapon. He was born with rare, multiple birth defects – a combination of crippling Pterygium Syndrome, a clubfoot, webbed fingers on both hands, and a cleft lip and palate. His legs would not straighten from the knee and he was forced to crawl or push himself in a wheelchair. While other kids played outside, Rudy sat and suffered. He was an eager little boy trapped in an imperfect body.
At age five, after 15 operations, he told his parents he wanted to move on; he would rather be a double amputee than continue to put up with what his life had become. He had both legs removed above the knee … and he's never looked back.The loss of his legs marked the beginning of his life. When Rudy was eight years old, he told the world he would swim in the 2004 Paralympic Games.
He was true to his word and brought home the Gold in the 200 Meter Individual Medley in 2004 and 2008, while shattering the world record for his class.
Rudy continues to swim as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Elite Team. He’s completed numerous triathlons individually and was the first bilateral above-knee amputee to finish an Ironman® 70.3 using a standard bike. Rudy has also won several prestigious awards, including the Arete Courage in Sports Award and the Casey Martin Award from Nike. His latest athletic aspiration – to be the first bilateral above-knee amputee to finish the Ford Ironman® World Championship this October in Kona, Hawaii!
Through his example, Rudy has mentored other amputee kids and helped CAF raise more than $21 million to ensure his challenged peers have the same opportunities as he did.