Ironman athlete shares his unthinkable journey

Springfield group hears inspirational message from double amputee.


Imagine trying just to complete an Ironman Triathlon World Championship – 146.2 total miles of running, swimming and biking in Hawaiian heat without stopping.

Then consider the challenges Scott Rigsby faced in 2007 trying to become the first double below-the knee amputee to complete the ultimate endurance sport.

Rigsby’s unthinkable journey riveted a crowd of 400 Wednesday at the Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center during The Gathering of the Miami Valley’s Fall Outreach Breakfast.

The Gathering is a faith-based men’s group that sponsors inspirational activities and meetings.

“My life radically changed in nine seconds, but it was a mini miracle in that I was still alive,” said Rigsby. “What people wrongly look at is the worst thing that happened was I lost my legs. The worst thing is losing yourself to fear, the worst killers of dreams.”

At age 18 and weeks from his freshman year of college, Georgia native Rigsby was severely injured in a truck accident, losing his right leg, barely maintaining the left leg (later amputated) and suffering third-degree burns on his back.

A blur of surgeries, school and nearly 20 years of being unfulfilled followed. It all changed in early 2006 when he read two stories.

One was about the Ironman and the other about a soldier who lost his legs in a roadside bombing.

At age 39, Rigsby found a new lease on life and two goals: to train for and complete the Ironman, and to work with others who have suffered similar injuries.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” he said.

Despite not knowing how to swim or ride a bike on prosthetics, Rigsby set out on a Rocky-like training regimen, eventually setting records for a double below-the knee amputee and a slot on the 2006 USA Triathlon team.

But the Ironman was the summit for Rigsby.

At numerous points he felt like quitting that October day in 2007. Picturing the wounded vets he wouldn’t be able to help and his own brother, who wasn’t supposed to live past age 5, pushed Rigsby through the pain, finishing in 16 hours, 43 minutes, just 17 minutes shy of the cutoff.

He established the Scott Rigsby Foundation and spends his days speaking, working with vets and others, and still sometimes competing.

“It’s all because I had a dream bigger than me and people around me to help let go of my fears.”

Rigsby’s story resonated with students in Jessica Dewey’s seventh grade class at Emmanuel Christian Academy.

“This is a critical age for these kids, and this can teach them how they can support each other,” she said.

Gathering member and Ohio Valley Medical Center COO Ron Shoemaker responded to the message and the man.

“My family loves any type of athletics, and his story is fantastic, the type I look for,” he said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Brown backs Nan Whaley for governor — Liz, not Sherrod
Brown backs Nan Whaley for governor — Liz, not Sherrod

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is running for governor in 2018, has picked up the backing of Sen. Sherrod Brown’s daughter, Columbus City Councilwoman Liz Brown. Whaley appeared at a press conference here Thursday with Brown and Columbus City Councilwoman Jaiza Page, an indication that support for the Dayton mayor may be extending beyond her base...
Woman to 911: ‘I’ve been raped’; Uber driver: ‘She was the aggressor’
Woman to 911: ‘I’ve been raped’; Uber driver: ‘She was the aggressor’

The woman was sobbing and hysterical: “I’ve been raped.” She said she was locked in her bedroom “in case the guy comes back.” And, she said, it was her Uber driver. She knows his name: Gary. >> Read more trending news But Gary Timothy Kitchings — adoptive father, longtime foster home “parent...
Before you watch eclipse: See what local eye doctors are warning
Before you watch eclipse: See what local eye doctors are warning

You don’t want to miss the eclipse. But you also don’t want to look too closely. As enthusiasm builds for the first total solar eclipse in more than 100 years on Monday, local eye doctors are warning residents in the Dayton area to avoid direct eye contact with the eclipse or risk permanent retina damage. The solar eclipse will have a 70-mile...
Search continues for 5 soldiers missing after Army Black Hawk crash
Search continues for 5 soldiers missing after Army Black Hawk crash

Officials scoured the waters off the coast of Hawaii for a second night Wednesday in search of five soldiers who were on board a U.S. Army helicopter Tuesday night when it went down during a training exercise. Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were conducting a nighttime training mission around 9:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday when one of the helicopters...
Student debt by Ohio colleges: What’s really going on
Student debt by Ohio colleges: What’s really going on

Around two-thirds of all 2015 Ohio college graduates have student loan debt. In Ohio, students who take out loans graduate with around $30,239 on average in debt, according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success. At both Wright State University and the University of Dayton though, students with loans owed more than the state...
More Stories