Thank you so much for helping coordinate the Veterans Day speaking engagement with Melissa. What an incredible story and inspiration! Zillow is absolutely abuzz with glowing reviews and the Veterans Network was super proud to be able to showcase such a cool event. Her message really struck a chord especially in these uncertain times. She was the perfect fit.
At first glance, Melissa Stockwell may appear to be the quintessential Midwestern All-American mom, but she is far more. She is an American war hero who has triumphed over personal tragedy to achieve greatness, World Champion status, and she has dedicated her life to chasing remarkable accomplishments while giving back to others, particularly those who face challenges similar to her own.
Melissa graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. She deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where a blast from a roadside bomb struck her Humvee, causing the loss of her left leg above the knee. After enduring numerous infections and surgeries, Melissa was medically retired from the Army. She is the first female soldier to ever loose a limb in active combat and has been awarded both The Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
Following her accident, sports become the road to recovery for Melissa. In 2008, she became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Beijing Paralympics where she was honored by her fellow Team USA athletes to be the flag bearer in the Closing Ceremony. After Beijing, Melissa turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three-time World Champion.
On September 11, 2016, at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Melissa raced in honor of her fellow soldiers and their families who had given the ultimate sacrifice serving and protecting America. After a grueling race, the day ended on the podium, as the newly crowned Paralympic Bronze Medalist.
Six weeks before the 2021 Paralympics, Melissa broker her back in a training accident, derailing her hopes of winning a gold medal. Nevertheless, despite the pain, she managed to compete at the Paralympic Games, finishing 5th. She is currently training for one more shot at a Paralympic Gold Medal at the Paris Games in 2024.
Featured Keynote Program
The Power of Choice
An aspiring gymnast in childhood, Melissa Stockwell dreamed of someday representing Team USA at the Olympics Games. As college approached, her Patriotic dreams shifted to representing her country as a member of the U.S. Army. Upon graduating, she was commissioned and soon thereafter deployed to Iraq. It was there that a roadside bomb made her the first female American solider to lose a limb in active combat. What followed was a remarkable story of resilience and perseverance, and of the indominable spirit of a woman who chose not only to survive, but to thrive.
Now a Paralympic medalist, a World Champion, a World Record Holder and an Ironman, Melissa’s keynote “The Power of Choice” is an emotionally commanding presentation that will both redefine your perception of disability and inspire you to rethink your own limits.
Melissa Inspired our team today during these unsettling times. She shared her personal & intimate story of resilience, moving forward, love of family, and the critical aspect of team work. She ignited the flame inside all of us and helped influence a mindset of positive thinking, reflection on life and the importance of being a good teammate.