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Paralympic snowboarder Brenna Huckaby traded in Utah's snow-covered mountains for a sandy beach in Aruba for a spread in the 2018 Sport...

Meet the First Amputee to Be Featured in "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue"

Paralympic snowboarder Brenna Huckaby traded in Utah's snow-covered mountains for a sandy beach in Aruba for a spread in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. But while the scenery was a drastic change for the world champion (who is set to compete in the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang next month), a constant that remains in Huckaby's life is her ability to break through barriers. And her Sports Illustrated debut is another example of that.

The 22-year-old is the first amputee to ever be featured in the coveted swimsuit issue, and Huckaby says she is overjoyed by the outpour of support she's already received from other women with disabilities.

"[The response has] been extremely positive and uplifting, which I was hoping for,"she tells Cosmopolitan.com. "Before doing the shoot, I thought, 'Holy cow, I'm opening myself up for a lot of good, but potentially also a lot of bad.' I wanted it to be done right. I wanted to represent women with disabilities the right way."

Huckaby says one woman's message in particular has stood out because of how much she related to the obstacles she's had to overcome. "If I had seen these pictures when I was younger, that would've made [such a] difference in my recovery after cancer," Huckaby says the woman told her. "Just hearing that made the shoot that much more worth it."

In 2010, Huckaby was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer - a diagnosis that, due to complications, forced doctors to amputate her right leg. She was only a freshman in high school, and describes that time in her life as her "lowest of low." During her junior year, she moved to Utah from Louisiana, where the former gymnast took up snowboarding as a way to get back into sports, and the rest is history.

For Cosmopolitan.com, she opens up about how she overcame her struggles with body image and self-confidence after her amputation, dating and motherhood.

Happiness became a priority during her recovery.

I started going to the gym and that slowly started to help me build my confidence, because I could walk [with the help of my prosthetic]. That may not sound like much, but I tried to find things that I could enjoy. I started to surround myself with people that made me feel good. That wasn't easy, but you have to feel good [within yourself] in order to find other people that can make you feel good.

And dating gave her a sense of normalcy.

I had my eyes set on a football player in high school. He started to give me attention. As much of a douche as he turned out to be, he definitely helped me a lot. He helped me feel good. He got me roses! Dating him gave me a sense of confidence because he was a popular football player. To have somebody show that much of an interest in me - it made me feel good. It made me feel normal.
My butt hits the newsstand today(literally😝) Im still smiling and freaking out over this huge milestone in women empowerment. It’s funny to read things that say women shouldn’t need to pose nude or in swimsuits to feel empowered, and I agree. I feel empowered daily. I feel empowered standing on the podium or getting my daughter to eat broccoli. Confidence comes in all forms. It was my choice to put myself out there in a sexy way because yo gurl wants to show people she is sexy (regardless of everything else). If you don’t want your sons to look at my body in that way let’s teach them to respect women no matter what they wear! My achievements are no smaller or greater because I’m in a swimsuit. I will forever remember this day as one of my favorites. The women behind SI couldn’t have made me feel any better or more confident. 100% one of the best companies 😍From @si_swimsuit go to their website to see more from the shoot and to see all the other strong women! I’m still on cloud 9.
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