U.S. Paralympian visits Summit City with inspiring message - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

U.S. Paralympian visits Summit City with inspiring message

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

A woman who lost her leg in the Iraq war turned her disability into a series of triumphs.

The Army veteran visited the Summit City Wednesday to inspire others.

"Believing in yourself, having that strong team around you, never telling yourself you can't do something until you try," Melissa Stockwell says.

The 37-year-old practices what she preaches, and she visited Turnstone to address members of the Northeast Indiana Base Community Council, an organization that helps military families.

"When their service members deploy, a lot of times their family is kind of, they're not on a military base, they're in a community. So making sure they don't fall through the cracks," she says.

Stockwell says she had plenty of support after being wounded in Iraq.

When she was a 24-year-old Army lieutenant in Baghdad, a roadside bomb ripped off her left leg above the knee.

She knew her life would never be the same, but couldn't imagine what she'd accomplish.

"At Walter Reed, I was surrounded by so many other soldiers, many of them, unfortunately, worse off than I was. Missing multiple limbs, traumatic brain injuries, lost their eyesight. So I realized very early on that I was lucky. I had my life, I had three good limbs and my mind, and decided to live my life for those that no longer could, who had given that ultimate sacrifice," Stockwell says.

After hearing a presentation at Walter Reed Medical Center about the U.S. Paralympian team, Stockwell trained and made the swim team for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

After not making the finals, she reinvented herself into a triathlete and competed in Rio last summer, taking the bronze medal.

She's also a three-time world paratriathlon champion, has met Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Carter, and their wives, and founded the Chicago-based Dare2Tri paratriathlon group.

Now pregnant with her second child, her message is simple.

“Everyone has things going on in their individual lives. I'm missing a leg but somebody else can have just as difficult a situation in their own life. So it's all relative. But I think we get so caught up in the little things, the little day to day monotonous things. And if we sometimes just take a step back and look around and put things in perspective, it's hard to do that. But when we do we realize just how lucky we are to live the life that we do,” Stockwell says.

She says no matter what you're facing, you have the power to choose your own story, no matter what obstacles might come.

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