Melissa Stockwell

Challenged Athletes Foundation - Featured Athlete

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All-American Athlete
Melissa Stockwell is your all American girl... with a slight twist. She is one of our nation's heroes that triumphed through tragedy and raced for our country from the frontline to finish line. Her remarkable story of becoming an American Paralympian began while serving our country in 2004, as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army while deployed with her unit in Iraq. Just three weeks after arriving, a blast from a roadside bomb struck Melissa's humvee causing the loss of her left leg above the knee. After enduing numerous infections and surgeries, Melissa was medically retired from the Army.
Red white and blue
Melissa is not one to sit on the sidelines and with her own determination and the help of the Challenged Athletes Foundation's® (CAF) Operation Rebound® program, she began competing in numerous triathlons and marathons following her injury and retirement. CAF's Operation Rebound provides support and opportunities to troops and veterans who have suffered permanent physical injuries so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. Most notably, Melissa has become a highly competitive swimmer and is among the top swimmers in her class in the world. She became the first Iraq veteran chosen for the Paralympics and represented the United States as a member of the Paralympic Swim Team at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. To celebrate her accomplishment, Melissa was chosen by her peers to have the honor of carrying the American flag during the closing ceremonies.
"I gain so much through sports", says Melissa. "Being involved with them makes me feel as though I am whole again and can accomplish anything I put my mind to."
What's next?
As a 3 time Paratriathlon World Champion, Melissa has decided to take her love for the sport to the next level, competing on behalf of CAF's Operation Rebound program at the Oceanside, CA 70.3 Ironman at the end of March with several other troops who have lost limbs while fighting honorably in combat. This race will serve as a training event for Melissa's ultimate quest to become an Ironman in Arizona this November.

Melissa is currently living in Chicago and working as a certified prosthetist where she fits other amputees with artificial limbs. She stays busy training, coaching and speaking to people of all abilities about overcoming challenges through sport with an 'I can do anything' attitude.

Be Inspired: See the Video.