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December 20, 2014

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Amy Purdy of Las Vegas tackles quickstep, jazz on tonight’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’

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Adam Taylor / ABC

Tom Bergeron, Amy Purdy of Las Vegas and Derek Hough on Season 18 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday, April 21, 2014.

Las Vegas’ Amy Purdy on ‘DWTS’

Tom Bergeron, Amy Purdy of Las Vegas and Derek Hough on Season 18 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday, May 19, 2014. Launch slideshow »

It will be a very serious semifinal challenge for Las Vegas heroine Amy Purdy tonight on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Still recovering from rib and shoulder pain, the double amputee will perform a quickstep and a jazz routine choreographed by her Las Vegas Academy pro partner and five-time champion Derek Hough for the evening’s theme, “American Icons.”

It’s a remarkable story of bravery, courage and overcoming all the odds. Amy lost her legs below her knees when they were amputated to save her life when she contracted bacterial meningitis on her 19th birthday while living here in Las Vegas. She had just begun working as a massage therapist at the Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa.

Her grandfather Ralph was one of the founding members of the Helldorado Days festival here, and her father Stefan was executive director of its committee for seven years in the 1990s. He donated a kidney to her after she went into septic shock, lost her kidneys and was given a 2 percent chance of living. He will be on the dance floor tonight cheering for her.

The Cimarron Memorial High School graduate refused to let the medical nightmare affect her life or love for snowboarding. Wearing leg prosthetics, she remarkably went on to represent the United States in women’s snowboarding at this year’s Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where she won a bronze.

At the New Zealand Winter Games in 2011, she won gold. In 2012, Amy and then-boyfriend Daniel Gale were the second team eliminated in Season 21 of CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” finishing 10th out of 11 teams.

Now on “DWTS,” Derek and she are among the final five couples — the other celebrity competitors are actor-singer James Maslow, Olympic champion Charlie White, Olympic champion Meryl Davis and actress Candace Cameron Bure. Director, choreographer and Las Vegas regular Kenny Ortega (Michael Jackson’s tours, Sirens at T.I., “High School Musical”) makes his debut as a guest judge.

After tonight, four couples will move on to next week’s finals. Tonight’s show also will feature Derek’s choreography of the Macy’s Stars of Dance with a tribute to classic Hollywood. Derek will dance with Disney’s Jessica Lee Keller and 26 backup dancers, including many “DWTS” pros.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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