GREENVILLE — Scott Rigsby was just a regular 18-year-old Georgia teen when a serious crash took both of his legs.
Ten years of rehabilitation, 26 surgeries and a battle with prescription drug addiction almost proved too much. But the tragedy would not defeat him. Instead, it motivated him.
Still adjusting to life without legs, Rigsby turned to sports. It took years, but hard work and training resulted in Rigsby being the first double-amputee in the world to finish the Hawaiian Ironman with prosthetics at the 140.6-mile Ford Ironman World Championship (FIWC) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, his online profile states.
Rigsby has competed in several athletic events, most recently the Boston Marathon. He also wrote a book titled “Unthinkable.”
As part of events after the Yellow Jacket Challenge 5K and those leading up to the Tri-Greenville Triathlon, Rigsby will be speaking in Greenville Sunday and Monday, sharing his story. He also plans to run in the Yellow Jacket Challenge.
The Tri Greenville Planning Team loved the idea of bringing Scott here,” said Doug Hinken, co-director of Tri-Greenville, the group that organized Rigsby’s visit. “Scott overcame extreme circumstances and was able to find a joy and success. It is a story of hope against where we normally would expect our circumstances to lead. Everyone can use that kind of hope.”
The events will be at 3:45 p.m. Sunday at the Greenville Performing Arts Center and 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Greenville Area Community Center. They are free to the public and are first come, first serve.
“I figured, since he was coming, I’d read his book so I knew a little more about him,” said Kara Tiesworth, recreation programmer with the Greenville Recreation Department. She plans on attending his speech and looks forward to telling him of his inspiration.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the presentation part and meeting him directly,” she said. “Just to go through everything he did and get through it is inspiring. To see someone who had such a huge impact, injury wise, and come out of it like he did, it puts into perspective your life.”
The speeches will be a sort of wrap up for the Yellow Jacket Challenge, but also a build up to the triathlon, the organization for which is in full swing.
“Tri-Greenville 2014 is shaping up nicely and will be another great event,” Hinken said, but noted the chilly temperatures are still on people’s minds.
“I know that people are afraid that the water will be too cold for the swim, but two of us tested that out on Wednesday. I’d like to say it was like bath water, which is true if you don’t add hot water,” he joked. “The water temperature was 56 degrees, so it doesn’t have far to go to be comfortable for the race. So we hope Scott will motivate people to move beyond their fears and sign up.”
For more information on the speeches or races, call (616) 754-8887, or visit www.trigreenville.com.