Rudy Garcia-Tolson


Rudy has turned one of the most brutal disadvantages in life—rare, multiple birth defects—into personal and athletic gold, banking inborn talent with powerful drive.  Born with leg-twisting Pterygium Syndrome, a clubfoot, a cleft lip and palate, and webbed fingers on both hands, he endured 15 surgeries before the age of 5. When six-months in a cage-like steel brace with pins in his bones failed to straighten one of his legs, his parents gave him a choice—continue with attempts to straighten his legs, or remove them both.  The 5-year-old Garcia-Tolson, a born athlete who was raring for a life of freedom and play, chose a bilateral amputation.  That’s right, at 5 years of age, he told them to “Cut them off.”

Within a few months, he was doing everything any exceptionally active five-year-old would do, and more.  With his prostheses, he climbed walls, trees, and rocks, went up and down stairs, and broke his new legs and feet so many times that his prosthetists started repairing them with bungee cords.


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.  Probably a lot of people thought he couldn’t do it; however, being a true bad-ass, he was true to his word and brought home the Gold in the 200 Meter IM, while shattering the world record for his class.

By age 15, Rudy had 5 American swimming records, four national track records, completed six triathlons, carried an Olympic torch, and named one of People Magazine’s 20 teens that will change the world. Oh, and he’s buddies with movie star Robin Williams and has appeared on Oprah.  He freaking survived Oprah!

What Rudy does is spend six or seven hours a day in athletic training, routinely break world records in swimming, compete in triathlons, and tour the country as a motivational speaker to spread his message that “A Brave Heart is a Powerful Weapon.”  He’s also racked up a number of accolades including the Arete Courage in Sports Award, the Casey Martin Award from Nike, and the Spirit of da Vinci Award.


“Having no legs is really a gift,” says Rudy Garcia-Tolson. “If I wasn’t an amputee, I probably wouldn’t have the same drive to do what I do.”  A typical humble response from someone pumping ass-kicking blood through their veins.

So, if you’re missing a pinkie or some sh!t like that and you’re whining about it, then you are definitely not a bad-ass like Rudy Garcia-Tolson.  Think about him next time you walk out to get the mail.

Here are the source links about him here: and here:


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