Melissa Stockwell
American War Hero and Paralympic Medalist
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.

From Wounded Warrior to World Champion

Melissa talks about overcoming obstacles, perseverance and how we all have the ability to choose our own path in life.

Melissa’s story inspires and drives home an important message fitting for any audience: success is driven by focusing on what you do have as opposed to what you don’t. What Melissa has already accomplished in her life is remarkable and it is clear her best is yet to come.


Chicago Bears

Melissa Stockwell tells an American story that is all about inspiration and not at all about self-pity. I have seen her bring a whole roomful of legislators to tears with her straight talk and sincere patriotism.

Nancy Livingston Director of Community Relations and Outreach
Century College

Thank you again for being our keynote speaker. The sharing of your experience gave all present, a new heightened sense of our mission. You truly delivered a ‘gold- medal’ message that set a can- do, must- do direction. Thank you.

Ann Dodelin Consumer Review Administrator
Global Health Sector, SRA International Inc.

Melissa’s story and message to our health professional graduates was inspiring, challenging and encouraged each of us to live bold and full lives. It moved, not only our graduates, but the 1600 family members and friends in attendance. It was the first time in my 25 years of academics to see an entire audience spontaneously rise to give a commencement speaker a standing ovation…and that ovation was well-deserved

Harold P. Jones Dean and Professor, School of Health Professions
University of Alabama at Birmingham

The guests at our Kids Rank: Ribbons of Character Benefit were completely engaged and inspired by our honoree Melissa Stockwell. Her story of determination and perseverance all with an optimistic attitude were exactly why she was chosen for our annual award. Beyond her incredible combat story, it is her continuing life's journey and her ability to make a human connection with people which made her time with us an unforgettable experience.

Kelsey Liverpool Founder and Creator
Kids Rank

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

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…..you 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
Proctor and Gamble