by LAUREE S. PURCELL
Before Harrisonburg native and bestselling author Josh Sundquist joined the United States National Amputee Soccer Team in 2014, he competed as a skier in the Paralympics in Italy. Josh speaks to audiences about overcoming adversity and reaching peak performance. His energy and humor inspire organizations and individuals to adopt his ski-racing motto, 1MT1MT (one more thing, one more time) as a standard of excellence. Josh’s video blogs on YouTube have been viewed over 20 million times.
But Josh credits several churches in Harrisonburg as helping his family get through the ordeal of his bone cancer and leg amputation when he was just nine. Congregants made meals, did housework, brought gifts and cared for Josh’s siblings while his parents were with him at UVA hospital. Josh enrolled at Massanutten Adaptive Ski School when he was ten and still undergoing chemotherapy. The director there, Mark Andrews, taught Josh to ski fast with just one leg.
Josh was home schooled through middle school. Joe Glick, current principal of Skyline Middle School, was Josh’s biology teacher when he first enrolled at Harrisonburg High School. Josh appreciated how Glick and others helped him transition from home schooling. They worked around Josh’s training schedule for ski racing, and he graduated from Harrisonburg in 2002.
Training in Colorado for the Paralympics while studying business at the College of William & Mary (W&M) gave Josh an exciting opportunity. He competed in Italy in 2006 with his parents present, just twelve years after his amputation. That same year, he graduated from W&M and then earned a Masters in Communications in 2008 from University of Southern California.
Josh published “Just Don’t Fall” in 2010 and “We Should Hang Out Sometime” in 2014. He is now working on a novel about a blind teenager who undergoes experimental surgery. His advice to aspiring authors is to decide on a genre and subgenre, read every book in that subgenre and decide how to fill an existing hole. Then approach a literary agent with a polished draft.
He and his fiancée, Ashley, will be married in September. She is a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network.
LAUREE STROUD PURCELL is an editorial consultant and writer for Living.
Know someone 30 or under to nominate for a future Shenandoah Spotlight? Requirements are: Valley resident or grew up here, outstanding for their job, community, or church work, and the model they provide. Contact us at [email protected]