Shay Eskew

Shay Eskew

  • Childhood Burn Victim
  • Ironman Triathlete
  • Overcoming Obstacles Speaker

Shay is an All American and World ranked triathlete, burn survivor with scars over 65% of his body and is a sought out national motivational speaker. Despite being told he’d never compete in sports again at the age of 8, Shay is living testament to “Anything is Possible”: 4x Ironman, 4x member of Team USA, ranked top 2% of Ironmen worldwide and has competed in 8 triathlon world championships, including the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. His mantra has always been to not merely be a “finisher” but to be a “competitor.” Last year, he finished 21st at the International Triathlon Sprint World Championships – all of this despite not being able to sweat on 1/3 of his body due to his scars and suffering from severe dehydration during each race.

Shay’s story is a parent’s nightmare – an innocent 8 year old set afire with gasoline by a neighbor’s child. The severity of his burns resulted in the amputation of his right ear, years of rehab to regain use of his right arm after being permanently melted to his side, learning how to write left handed to resume attending school and the wearing of plastic orthotic braces for 3 years - including 35 surgeries over 30 years. Always the first to make light of his situation, Shay shares how having a detachable prosthetic ear can be quite entertaining, even when it pops off at unpredictable times.

His message underscores we all face adversity, some physical, some mental, but “everyone has a story” and it is how we embrace adversity that defines who we are. Shay truly believes getting severely burned as a child was a blessing and served as a motivator to excel in athletics and become a top 1% income producer. It’s hard to imagine a kid who cried himself to sleep at night for years due to being compared to Freddy Krueger would one day be an extremely successful sales executive. “It’s all about being memorable” Shay tells his audiences.

Shay is well-known in the national triathlon community. He was selected as 1 of 6 nationally most inspiriting stories in the 2012 Ironman Kona Inspired contest and featured during the NBC Broadcast of the 2012 Ironman World Championships. He was also featured as the amateur male athlete in the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championships and as a feature cover story “Forged by Fire” in the 2012 USA Triathlon Olympic Preview issue. Shay is also a sponsored triathlete and a member of the Ironman Foundation/Newton Running Triathlon Ambassador team.

Shay received a BS (cum laude) and a MBA (finance) from the University of Tennessee. Additionally, he is on the national Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) speaker circuit. Most importantly, Shay just celebrated his 12yr wedding anniversary and is the proud father of 5 kids under 9.

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