By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie

DESPITE living with just half a body – inspirational Rowdy Burton is determined to not let his condition define him

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Videographer / director: Bob Miller
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux

30-year-old, Rowdy, was born with a rare lower spinal disorder called Sacral Agenesis.

Affecting only one in 25,000 births, the condition resulted in Rowdy having both of his legs amputated when he was just three years old – with doctors using pins to stop his bones growing any further.

Rowdy, who resides in Alabama, USA, was left to live his life with two stumps positioned directly beneath his waist and now that he is older, he prefers to use his hands and elbows to get around rather than a wheelchair.

After all the hardship Rowdy has faced over the years, he is still determined to live his life to the full – playing tennis with his friends and riding his skateboard.

Rowdy told Barcroft TV: “People have asked me, ‘Does not having legs make some things more difficult?’ I can’t really answer that because I can’t compare it to having legs.

“I was born with Sacral Agenesis. I honestly didn’t learn much about it until I became an adult. I always just classed myself as a guy with no legs.

“My legs had to be amputated because if I had continued to grow and let them develop, I would have just been carrying dead weight and since they didn’t bend right either, it would have been difficult to use a wheelchair or crutches.

“But now, I’m doing well. A lot of my friends that have known me for years have said one time or another that they have forgot I don’t have legs. Which is real nice to hear.”

Rowdy‘s condition also means that he has to use a colostomy bag, which he feels has had a negative impact on his love life.

He said: “I do not have a girlfriend right now.

“That goes back to the colostomy bag issue. The thing is in intimate situations, you try to be close to somebody and the last thing you want is a colostomy bag getting in the way.

“I can have kids if I wanted. Which surprises some people. But that hasn’t happened on accident yet, which is good.”

Rowdy experienced bullying when he was a child and found it hard to fit in at school.

But now, most people give Rowdy a positive reaction when he is out in public and describe how he lives his life as ‘cool’.

“I was definitely bullied as a kid on several occasions,” he said.

“All the way up to 10th grade by some people. But once I got into high school, everyone got a little bit more mature and I usually didn’t have to worry about it.

“Most of the time now, people are like, ‘Hey that’s cool, that guy is walking around on his hands.’

“I’ve always been used to it – people reacting to me – and so I’ve never really cared that much.”

In his spare time, Rowdy likes to play tennis with his friends and ride around on his skateboard – he is determined to never let his physical condition get in his way.

He said: “There hasn’t been anything that I really wanted to do that I felt like I couldn’t.

“Except one thing actually. I did kind of want to be an astronaut – still do – I want to go into space before I die. But you know they are pretty strict about that with physical conditions.

“They will send a monkey up there with no training, but I have to get through a bunch of stuff.

“I walk around with my hands, but sometimes I use a skateboard because that’s easy to pull in and out of a car for example.

“I love to play tennis as well with a group of people. It’s like adapted tennis where I go and have fun.”

Rowdy has made a number of close friends through playing tennis with the organisation Dream Court, and Christy Rue, in particular, has seen him grow as a person since the day he first started.

Christy told Barcroft TV: “I met Rowdy when I got involved in wheelchair tennis.

“He is very pleasant, very kind and he never pities himself. People are drawn to him.

“I remember before I met him, our mutual friend told me, ‘He is one of those people that everybody just immediately loves’. And he is. You meet him and he is just so cool.”

Rowdy is now looking forward to his future and what new challenges he can overcome.

He said: “I’ve always tried to see the positive end of every situation.

“That’s not to say I’ve never lost my cool or been frustrated.

“But there’s always a silver lining, there’s always a bright side to everything.”