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A woman who lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing and has since become an advocate for amputees recently did something even she never thought she would achieve — she walked in her first fashion show.
Adrianne Haslet, a former professional ballroom dancer whose left leg was blown off in the April 2013 attack, opened Lesley Hampton's recent show at Vancouver Fashion Week. She strutted her stuff in a sheer, black-and-white minidress, a purposeful decision by the designer, who wanted to show off Haslet’s prosthetic leg.
"It was amazing," Haslet, 36, told TODAY Style. "I pinched myself and thought, 'This isn't real. This can't be real.'"
Hampton, a young designer based in Toronto, has long been an advocate for inclusivity in fashion — she's also been praised for sending plus-size models down the runway in her shows.
"My brand is really about body diversity and bringing different bodies to the runway," Hampton told TODAY Style. "I've featured transgender models, models with alopecia."
She recently read an article about Haslet, who was ranked third in the world in ballroom dancing before the attack, and has since appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" and run the 2016 Boston Marathon, and she was intrigued. Hampton wanted her to be in her show.
"She had this horrible thing happen to her and basically doctors told her you're never going to dance again," Hampton, 22, said. "What inspired me the most was her drive to say no, I will dance again, I will do everything I did before."
She sent an email to Haslet, who responded almost immediately.
"I said, 'I'm so honored, I'd love to participate, thank you so much for thinking of me, and for showing other body types that need to be shown in the media, especially on the runway,'" Haslet said. "I was immediately emotional because I knew I wasn't only walking for me, but I was walking for other amputees who want to be celebrated as sexy. We're no different. There is no us and them — we're all human."
Haslet, who lives in Boston, flew to Vancouver for the show, and her parents came from Seattle, too.
"I was crying beforehand backstage," she said. "(After) I went down and saw my family and we all celebrated and it was really emotional."
Now Haslet calls Hampton a "lifelong friend" and plans to walk again in one of her future shows.
She considers it a small step toward breaking stereotypes about amputees and proving that people like her can excel in any industry — something she questioned herself when she woke up without a left leg nearly four years ago in a Boston hospital.
"I certainly never thought I would see an amputee dancer or an amputee in high fashion in those dark hours," she said.
Luckily for us, now she's both.