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Melissa Stockwell

Retired U.S. Army 1st. Lieutenant, Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, Marathon World Recorder Holder (Boston), Paralympic Bronze Medalist – Triathlon 3-Time World Champion, 3-Time Paralympian IRONMAN

Melissa Stockwell’s captivating personal story of overcoming grief and hardship leaves audiences simultaneously touched and motivated. Her keynote speeches inspire and remind attendees that there is always a silver lining and it’s never too late to grow and improve.

“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.” –Melissa Stockwell

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Travels From: Illinois | Fee Range: $15,000 - $25,000

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Hear and reflect on an inspiring message of perseverance and maintaining perspective in leadership and in life from of an American hero who has triumphed over personal tragedy to achieve greatness, World Champion status, and who has dedicated her life to chasing remarkable accomplishments while giving back to others, particularly those who face challenges similar to her own. Melissa Stockwell proudly wore the uniform of the United States Army, where she very nearly made the ultimate sacrifice for her country. Today, she proudly wears the uniform of Team USA as a World Champion athlete and Paralympic Medalist. Melissa shares her remarkable story, from the battlefields of Baghdad to the Paralympic Games, in an emotionally powerful presentation that will inspire you to see ability not disability, to maximize what you do have and forget about what you don’t, and to apply, as she details, “…the amazing power of choice.”

After 9/11, she was deployed to Iraq as a commissioned Army officer, where she suffered the injury that would change her life forever. After a long and challenging recovery at Walter Reed Hospital, she exercised her power of choice to channel her energy into competition, winning three Paratriathlon World Championships and medaling at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Her journey weaves service to her country and the heartache of a painful divorce along with founding a successful nonprofit, launching a career in prosthetics, finding new love, and becoming a mother to two children. Along the way, she meets all the living American presidents and inspires others with disabilities—through a story that is riveting, moving, and an inspiration for anyone who would choose to live their life to the fullest.


After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2002, Melissa Stockwell was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army’s transportation corps. One month after being deployed to Iraq, in April 2004, she became the first female American soldier in history to lose a limb in active combat after her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. She was later honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for her service. Four years later, she became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympic Games, competing in swimming at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. She was selected to be the flag bearer for Team USA at the Beijing closing ceremonies.


“Thank you so much for helping coordinate the Veterans Day speaking engagement with Melissa. What an incredible story and inspiration! [Our company] 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.”


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.

The Chicago Bears


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.

Kelcey Liverpool, Founder Kids Rank

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