Thursday night @7PM EST on The G-ZONE I will have the honor and pleasure of interviewing not one but two different authors-David Michael Harding & Shellie Blum. Below is part of Shellie’s story, very compelling, very honest, and right in your face.
Here is the link for the show, tune in, call in, email me with your questions- be a part of the conversation!
I’m 5'2" and weigh less than 115 pounds soaking wet—which is how I spent most of the first 24 years of my life. From the time I stepped into a pair of water skis I was in my element. Actually, I didn’t even need the skis: The Lake of the Ozarks Water Ski Show billed me as the “The 12-Year-Old Girl Wonder,” the youngest-ever female professional barefoot water skier. I loved freestyle skiing, and I loved breaking records. Not just “easy” records like water-skiing nonstop for 12½ hours—312 miles—to break the Muscular Dystrophy Marathon record, but the serious challenges of freestyle water ski ramp jumping.
The first female water-skier caught on film doing a helicopter? That was me, at age 18, at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. I landed my first front-flip at age 22, another world record first. All I needed to become the first and only woman to compete in the Coors Light Freestyle Water-ski Pro Tour was the back-flip, and I finally stuck my first perfect landing—on film, no less!—at age 24 at Cypress Gardens: The Water Ski Capital of the World. I wasn’t yet consistent enough to challenge the men, though, so I practiced the back-flip whenever I could…between waterskiing the Red Sea in a race for King Hussein of Jordan’s birthday and performing in record-breaking 5-tier human pyramids at Cypress Gardens.
I was practicing my back-flip in March 1989 when I set a record I never wanted: the first female water-ski pro to be dragged by the neck through the water at 36 mph. I survived the Hangman’s Fracture and a broken jaw. Most people said I was lucky. I could have…should have…died or been paralyzed. But if I had been a male athlete with my career cut short, would my doctor have told me to find a rich husband, settle down, and get a nice house in the country? I don’t think so.
No longer able to do the one thing that made me deliriously happy, the thing I was better at than any other woman in the world, I was left with a paralysis of a different sort: depression. The bills piled up. The insurance company pressured me to settle. Just surviving seemed to mean one battle after another. But I am nothing if not a fighter. With the help of my family, my friends, and a few dedicated professionals, I was finally able to come to terms with my physical and emotional pain. I’ll never be able to freestyle jump again. But I’ve found a new element, and I’m just as competitive as ever. This is my story.