Melissa Stockwell

War Veteran, 2x Paralympian, Bronze Medalist, Triathlon Coach, Dare2tri Co-Founder

Melissa is the first female soldier to ever lose a limb in active combat and has been awarded both The Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Following her accident, sport become the road to recovery for Melissa. In April of 2008, she became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Beijing Paralympics. She competed in three swimming events and was honored by her fellow Team USA athletes to be selected to carry the American flag in the closing ceremony. After Beijing, Melissa turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three time World Champion. She was named USA Triathlon’s female Paratriathlete Of The Year for two consecutive years and was twice nominated for an ESPY award.

  • Melissa Stockwell`s Keynote Speaker Fee This reflects Melissa Stockwell`s U.S. Speaking Fee

    $20,001 - $30,000

  • Languages Spoken


  • Travels From

    Colorado, USA

  • Melissa Stockwell`s Keynote Speaker Fee This reflects Melissa Stockwell`s U.S. Speaking Fee

    $20,001 - $30,000

  • Languages Spoken


  • Travels From

    Colorado, USA

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About Keynote Speaker Melissa Stockwell

When I woke up in the Baghdad ER on April 13, 2004, the furthest thing from my mind was being a Paralympian. At the time, I didn’t even know what that word meant. After 24 years of having both my legs, I was suddenly missing one, taken from me by a roadside bomb on the streets of Iraq.

My initial thoughts were being thankful to have my life and then the endless questions on what my life would be like moving forward.

I got to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to start that process of moving forward. I saw immediately that I was one of the lucky ones. I had three good limbs, my mind, my eyesight and I was alive. It was then I made a promise to live my life for those that didn’t make it back and who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I was a lucky girl. And a proud American.

The days turned into weeks and those into months. Too many surgeries, too many infections, but the constant knowledge and reassurance that things would be OK. I took my first steps on my prosthetic leg 52 days after I lost my real one. A day that reassured me that I would walk again and the assurance that I would once again be independent. But as a lifelong athlete, I wanted more. An aspiring young gymnast who dreamt of the Olympics, I was looking for something bigger. Once an athlete, always an athlete.

Lucky for me, multiple organizations helped me realize that not only could I still be athletic, but I could do things I never imagined doing with both my legs. Thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project I skied down the ski slopes of Breckenridge, Colo., on one leg proving to myself that there were no limits. Achilles’ Freedom team gave me the chance to handcycle the NYC marathon on 2005, one that I would go back and run years later. The Challenged Athletes Foundation invited me to do a triathlon with Operation Rebound, and as I crossed that finish line I felt invincible, like I could do anything. It was a life changing couple of months and the start of a life lived through sports.

In early 2005, a man named John Register from the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military and Veteran Program came to Walter Reed to present on the Paralympic Games. An event that as an athlete with a disability, with some hard work, could bring you to the worlds biggest athletic stage, representing your country and showing the world what you were capable of. In 2005, I knew that in 2008 there would be a Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, held just weeks after the Olympic Games in the same venues. And a dream was born.

After being medically retired from the Army in April 2005 with a Purple Heart and bronze star, the hard work began. Swimming was an obvious choice as I swam at Walter Reed for rehab. I loved the water and had lots of room for improvement. I joined my first competitive swim team, learned to love the smell of chlorine and slowly improved my times.

At the end of 2007, I moved out to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was fortunate enough to be coached by the late Jimi Flowers. He taught me to always work hard and believe in myself. When U.S. Paralympic Trials came around in April 2008, I was a long shot to make the team, minutes from where I needed to be. Realizing that hard work pays off, and that dreams really can come true I had the meet of my life and was named to the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Swim team. I was going to be a Paralympian.

The 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games came and went. Although there were no medals won, I learned that in life, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. And as I carried that American flag into that sold out Bird’s Nest Stadium at the Closing Ceremony, I had never been so proud. A proud American. And a proud Paralympian.

Since 2008, my life made a turn into the sport of Paratriathlon. I’ve been lucky to compete around the nation and around the world and stand on top of podiums becoming a 3x World Champion. On Sep 11th of 2016, Paratriathlon made the debut at the Paralympic Games and I raced my way to bronze as part of a USA sweep. It felt like a personal gold and standing on that podium with 2 of my Team USA teammates was one of the best days of my life. Getting back to Chicago and putting my medal around my son’s neck is a moment I will never forget.

One of my proudest professional accomplishments is giving back to a community that I am so fortunate to be a part of. Through co-founding Dare2Tri paratriathlon club, I am giving other athletes with disabilities the chance to experience the thrill of a triathlon and realize what they are capable of. We serve youth, adults and injured service members and inspire many! I am forever grateful to the organizations that helped me on my way.

And on the personal side, my husband and my 2 children, Dallas Patrick born in Nov 2014 and sweet Millie Lynn, born Aug 2017. My kids give me an even greater motivation to dream big in hopes they will have big dreams of their own someday. And an extra push for my next big dream of trying to make it to Tokyo in 2020.

I am thankful daily for those that have helped me live a life of sport. It builds confidence, it changes lives and as I compete and stand on podiums around the world I realize that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is so good.


“We were so happy to have Melissa speak at our Sales and Marketing Offsite. There was not a dry eye in the audience and she left us all feeling inspired, motivated and incredibly proud to have her on our team.”

Peter McGuinness, CMO Chobani

CMO Chobani

Nearly every ALA Convention attendee made it a point to share that your speech was the highlight of the entire week. All were inspired by your story and the courage and determination you have demonstrated as the life of Melissa 2.0 unfolds. Every Speaker for the remainder of the Convention referenced your Speech. Honestly, Melissa, folks simply couldn’t stop raving about you and P&G benefited by association.

Personally, it was an absolute honor and pleasure to meet you. I had high expectations… exceeded mine as both a Speaker and an Individual. The quality (intellect, poise, humor) in which you conduct yourself is very impressive Melissa.

Global Military Team Procter & Gamble


Melissa, you forced us to take stock of how we view our own lives with your TEDxVail Talk, “Choose Your Story.” We laughed when you flipped your leg completely around to show off your sweet new dance move. You stand on one leg with more courage and grace than many of us do on two. You moved hundreds to tears in the audience. Thanks, Melissa, for your powerful idea! You entice us all to choose life stories worth repeating.

Kat Haber

TEDx Vail


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