GARDEN GROVE (CBSLA.com) — Kindergarten teacher Jami Marseilles wants to teach her students much more than the curriculum.
"I hope my students know that the world is their oyster and they can achieve anything they want with hard work," said Marseilles, who is living proof of that.
She is expected to be the first double amputee woman in the world to complete a marathon when she runs the Chicago marathon this weekend.
"It shows me mentally that nothing is impossible. It shows me that age is just a number. I'm gonna be 47 in November," she said.
When Marseilles was just 19 years old, she survived 11 days stranded in her car in a snow storm in New Mexico.
When she was rescued, the frostbite in her legs was so severe, gangrene set in. The only choice was to amputate both legs below the knee.
"It was really emotional. It was very intense but it also was, 'I'm alive,' " she said.
Marseilles soon decided the best way to celebrate that life was to be active. She turned to running after watching the Paralympics.
"And I saw amputees like myself running in a prosthetic like that. First of all, I thought, 'How can they even balance? How does that even work?' But what an incredible way to continue my legacy," she said.
Marseilles was a member of the U.S. Paralympic team for three years, then turned to distance running.
She completed four half-marathons and decided to push herself even further: she signed up for a full marathon.
"I've learned that it's all mental. You can push your body to amazing opportunities," she said.
Despite her athletic accomplishments, Marseilles is most proud of her role as a mom to two children and her second career as a teacher.
She only started teaching full-time two years ago.
"And while I'm here, I want to motivate and inspire and help these children learn that there is this huge world out there. With a lot of hard work, you can survive. You can make a difference," said Marseilles, who has also authored two books, including a children's book about her inspirational life.
After Sunday's marathon, Marseilles has no plans to slow down.
She wants to run the Boston Marathon in 2016 in honor of the bombing survivors.
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