The defining moment for Melissa Stockwell came at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2004.
Having lost one of her legs in a roadside bombing in Iraq, the Army officer returned to the United States and began her rehabilitation in the Washington, D.C. center. A firm believer in the power of choice, Stockwell saw herself as one of the lucky ones, chose to continue her athletic endeavors and competed in two Paralympic Games.
Stockwell will tell her story at the Dare2tri fundraiser at Dana West High School in Port Byron Sunday.
“I saw there were soldiers missing multiple limbs, they had traumatic brain injuries or lost their eyesight and I realized how lucky I was,” Stockwell said. “I made a promise then to live my life for those that had given the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club fundraiser, which is $23 in advance at ticketfly.com or $28 at the door, will also have a performance by Mary Sarah, a country singer who was on Season 10 of The Voice. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Stockwell is one of the co-founders of Dare2tri, a not-for-profit that works with athletes with physical disabilities or visual impairment remain physically active by getting involved in paratriathlons. The group provides a coaching staff, adaptive equipment and training support for athletes at all levels.
The event Sunday is being organized by Auburn native and Dare2tri athlete Tom Giannettino.
"We connected years back, and he's an incredible person and athlete," Stockwell said. "The investment he has in Dare2tri is hard to top. He's very invested in it, and as one of the Dare2Tri co-founders, that's appreciated. ... He was looking for a speaker and it was a no-brainer."
Stockwell, who earned the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for her service, was the Paratriathlon World Champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012. She also won bronze in the paratriathlon at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, completing a sweep for the United States.
Even with all of her individual accomplishments, Stockwell still enjoys helping others and inspiring them to do something they've never done before.
"It's about more than the race," Stockwell said. "For these athletes, it's just the beginning.”