Once an aspiring gymnast who dreamed of the Olympics, Melissa Stockwell had no idea that her greatest athletic triumphs would come after she lost her leg.
A veteran and member of the 2010 USA Paratriathlon National Team, Stockwell has competed around the globe. She brings her inspirational story to Illinois State University with From Baghdad to Beijing and Beyond at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, in the Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center. The talk will celebrate Science and Technology Week.
Sponsored by the College of Applied Science and Technology, the Harold K. Sage Fund and the Illinois State University Foundation, the event is part of the Speaker Series at Illinois State University, and is free and open to the public.
In 2005, Stockwell was serving in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in Iraq when her HUMVEE was hit with a roadside bomb, taking her leg above the knee. The first female to lose a limb in active combat, she medically retired with a Purple Heart and bronze star.
During her year of recuperation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Stockwell became interested in the Paralympics, and was asked to try out for the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team. She was the first Iraq veteran to compete in Beijing in 2008.
Following the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Stockwell transitioned to paratriathlon, a sport where she has won multiple national and international titles. She was a member of the 2010 USA Paratriathlon National Team, a three-time Paratriathlon World Champion and a recent Ironman.
One of four athletes featured in a documentary called Warrior Champions, Stockwell co-founded the Chicago-based Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club that helps athletes with disabilities into the sport of triathlon. She is also a certified prosthetist and fits other amputees with artificial limbs, does motivational speaking and serves on the board of directors for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Speaker Series of Illinois State University seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process.