​Melissa: How a young lady turned misfortune into good fortune

“Life is too short to keep stalling, you might as well do the things youve always wanted to do now. Don’t wait for tomorrow to do them, Just do them now.

Meet Melissa

Here is the amazing story of Melissa Stockwell born in Grand Haven, Michigan, USA (April 23, 1980). 

A Patriotic American Citizen, and once an aspiring gymnast who dreamt of the Olympics, Melissa has always been positive, and has enjoyed decorating her room with American flags since she was young. 
Childhood dreams

She wanted to join the Army at a young age, and played sports in school. Melissa graduated from the University of Colorado in 2002 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army as part of the Transportation Corps. 
Tragedy strikes

On April 13, 2004, she was on a routine convoy, her vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, which ultimately resulted in the loss of her left leg above the knee. She was lucky to be alive. 

After too many surgeries, too many infections, but the constant knowledge and reassurance that things would be ok, Melissa took her first steps on her prosthetic leg 52 days after she lost her real one. A day that reassured her that she would walk again and the assurance that she would once again be independent. But as a lifelong athlete, Melissa wanted more. 
Seeing the big picture

An aspiring young gymnast who dreamt of the Olympics, she was looking for something bigger. Once an athlete, always an athlete.

In 2005, with a Purple Heart and bronze star, the hard work began. Melissa 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. 
Preparation begins

Following her retirement from the Army, athletics become a way of life for Melissa. In April of 2008, Melissa became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Paralympics when she earned her spot on the U.S. Swim Team. In the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, She represented the U.S. in the 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. She was also selected to carry the American flag in the Beijing closing ceremonies. She was named as the female Paratriathlete of the year for two consecutive years and was nominated twice for an ESPY award for female athlete with a disability.
And She has not stopped

She recently completed her first Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride, and a full marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run. Melissa now hopes to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio when Paratriathlon makes its debut. In 2007, Melissa also completed the prosthetic practitioner program at Century College in Minnesota where she learned to fit other amputees with artificial limbs. She currently works as a certified prosthetist at check and Siress Prosthetics in Chicago. 
She inspires others

She is also a level 1 certified triathlon coach and co-founder and coach of the Dare2tri Paratriathlon club in the Chicago area that helps athletes with disabilities compete in the sport of Triathlon. As dare2tri continues to grow, countless youth, adults, and injured service members with a physical disability such as amputation, spinal cord injury, stroke, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairment, or blindness have been empowered through participation in triathlon while inspiring the community at large. 
Melissa is now a global icon

Melissa serves on the board of directors for the Wounded Warrior Project, the USAT Foundation and is the USAT Womens Committee. As a motivational speaker, she has spoken at companies such as Accenture, Hartford, Deloitte and numerous others. She talks about overcoming obstacles and living life too its fullest.
Melissa is a proud American and has done more with one leg than she ever imagined she could.

Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded Epower.ng, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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