Athlete, fashion model to speak at Purdue

February 23, 2012

Aimee Mullins, an athlete, fashion model, advocate, and actress, will be the keynote speaker for a series of events in March to celebrate Purdue University's College of Health and Human Sciences. Mullins, who learned to walk on prosthetic legs by her second birthday, is a Paralympian in track and field who set world records in 1996 and was named last year as a L'Oreal Paris global brand ambassador. This is an image of her running while attending Georgetown University. Her talk, "There is No Normal," is at 7:30 p.m. March 20 in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Mullins)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Aimee Mullins, an athlete, fashion model, advocate and actress, will be the keynote speaker for a series of events in March to celebrate Purdue University's College of Health and Human Sciences.

Mullins, who learned to walk on prosthetic legs by her second birthday, is a Paralympian in track and field who set world records in 1996 and was named last year as a L'Oreal Paris global brand ambassador. Her talk, "There is No Normal," is at 7:30 p.m. March 20 in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences' 2012 Life Inspired celebration.

"Aimee's personal story and professional accomplishments as an athlete, advocate and model are truly one of a kind and a great example of what it means to live life to the fullest," said Christine Ladisch, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. "Her record-breaking athletic accomplishments are incredible, but it is really the work for disability awareness, wellness and sports that has the potential to affect and inspire others."

Mullins was born without the fibular bones in her legs, and doctors amputated both legs below the knee to improve her chances for mobility. As a child she excelled in a variety of athletic activities on her prosthetic legs. While attending Georgetown University on a full academic scholarship, she worked to compete on Georgetown's nationally ranked Division I track team. She became the first person to compete as an amputee in the NCAA, and she also competed in the 1996 Paralympics. At that time, her prosthetic legs were a prototype design made from woven carbon-fiber and modeled after a cheetah's hind legs. She was the first person to run on the prototype prosthetic legs and those have now become the standard prosthetic design used by Paralympic sprinters.

In 1996, she set three world records. She set the world record for the 100 meter at the USA Track & Field sanctioned collegiate meet in Atlanta, and both the 200 meter and long jump at the Olympics and Paralympic Trials in Atlanta.

Aimee Mullins
(Photo Courtesy of L'Oreal Paris)

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During the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mullins will serve as one of two Chefs de Mission for Team USA, which is considered the highest honor given to an American by the U.S. Olympic Committee. She also is involved with other nonprofits such as the Women's Sports Foundation, where she served as president from 2007-2009. She also had a vice president appointment for J.O.B., the nation's oldest nonprofit employment service for people with disabilities, and she was a founding member of the leadership board of the SPIRE Institute, which is considered the world's largest and most diverse athletic development center.

In 1999 People magazine named her one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." Her modeling career has included being featured in Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated for Women, Elle, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, W, Glamour, Rolling Stone, Esquire, ID, Jane, and Dazed and Confused. She is interested in body image and fashion advertising and how they relate to the standard notions of femininity and beauty. Her acting career began with a film debut with a role in Matthew Barney's "Cremaster 3," which was presented in the United States at the Guggenheim Museum in 2003.

Mullins's likeness appears in exhibits worldwide, at institutions including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NCAA Hall of Fame, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, the Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the Women's Museum, where she is honored for her contribution to sport among the "Greatest American Women of the 20th Century."

Mullins's talk is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences Life Inspired: 12 Days, Countless Opportunities program, which runs March 20-31. Additional event information will be released soon, and more information will be available at http://www.purdue.edu/hhs/LifeInspired

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Christine Ladisch, ladischc@purdue.edu

                 Wendi Ailor, director of alumni relations and special events, 765-494-7890, wailor@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Journalists are invited to attend Mullins's March 20 talk, but the event cannot be recorded. Photograph restrictions also apply, and journalists interested in shooting the event should contact Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue News Service, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu