As corny as the cliché is, Adrianne Haslet-Davis had the opportunity to sit out or dance. Many would have understood if she chose to sit out—Adrianne and her husband, an Air Force major, were spectators at the Boston Marathon and she lost part of her leg, including her entire foot, when the second bomb went out. But she chose to dance.
After having her foot amputated, the 32-year-old ballroom dancer and instructor told The Boston Herald, "I can't let some (expletive) come along and steal my whole life. So I'll dance again...Dancing is my life. Yeah, having my foot blown off, that really sucks. But I can't wallow in woe is me."
This week, just shy of a year after the bombing, Adrianne hit the stage at the TED Conference in Vancouver and danced a rumba with her partner, Christian Lightner, to Enrique Iglesias' "Ring My Bells."
She did it with the help of a computerized prosthetic, created by Professor Hugh Herr at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Herr is a double amputee himself and, after meeting Adrianne last year, designed the leg specifically so that she could dance again.
"It was so new, we'd never looked at something like dance," Herr explained. But he says, "The artificial limb is just a blank slate. If you think it, you can build it."
"Oh my gosh, grown men were bawling," Adrianne said after her dance. "Some of them came up to me and said it was the only time they cried other than at the birth of their children."
She told The Herald, "Conquering that out on that stage felt like accomplishing something I have been waiting my entire life to accomplish. The feeling is priceless. It took me a long time to even listen to music after the marathon. To dance again is incredible."
Adrianne got a standing ovation. After her dance, she smiled, wiped a tear from her eye, and bowed."I was always determined to dance again, and I knew that I had to, that I would, and here I am," she said. "I'm a survivor, not a victim."
Herr adds, "A human being can never be broken."
Adrianne's journey back to the dance floor is the focus of CNN Special Report: The Survivor Diaries, which is hosted by Anderson Cooper and airs April 8 at 10:00p.m. Tune in to see the performance (or just because you love Anderson Cooper, like everyone else in the world).