Paralympic Swimming Gold Medalist and Inspirational Speaker
Just two months prior to her 19th birthday, Mallory Weggemann went in to receive her third and final epidural injection that she was receiving to help treat back pain caused by post herpetic neuroglia. The epidural injections that were supposed to help with the debilitating pain instead left Mallory a paraplegic with complete loss of movement from her abdomen down. But instead of focusing on the life she lost, Mallory did the incredible, creating a new life for herself. Within four months of her paralysis, she was back in the swimming pool and less than four years later had set 15 world records and 33 American records and proceeded to win gold and bronze at the 2012 London Paralympics.
Mallory currently holds 17 world and 33 American records; has won a combined 13 gold and one silver medal at the 2009 and 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships; and is also the recipient of the 2009 and 2010 Swimming World Magazine Female Disabled Swimmer of the Year and USA Swimming Disabled Swimmer of the Year Awards. Currently, she is ranked no. 1 in the world for six of the seven Paralympic events.
Out of the pool, Mallory Weggemann is dedicated to touching the lives of other disabled athletes and raising awareness of disabled swimming throughout the United States and the world. In 2011, she was nominated by the Women’s Sports Foundation for the Sportswoman of the Year Award, given to the best female athletes based on their record-breaking, historic, or simply amazing athletic performances. At the 2011 ESPY Awards, Weggemann took home the award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.
Now, in addition to competing internationally and training for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Mallory is an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker. Her messages are not only inspirational, but also offer valuable lessons in leadership, attitude, and survival in the face of tremendous odds. It is with tremendous enthusiasm and genuine frankness that Mallory Weggemann shares her story—and story she insists is still unfolding—with the world. Her journey did not begin or end with the day she was paralyzed. That was merely one event among many in her life that has shaped, but not defined, her. The same, she insists, is true for any one of us. Whatever circumstances we face that may handicap us, we all choose daily whether we will allow those limitations to power over us or whether we will face down our challenges in a journey towards our own new mobility.
Mallory Weggemann was born and raised in Minnesota. She is currently a member of the US Paralympic Team.
Personal Story: Everything happens for a Reason (includes moving anecdotes from personal journal)
Mallory discusses the day in which she became paralyzed back in January of 2008, and her initial struggles to cope with the fact that everything she knew for nearly 19 years of her life changed in literally the blink of an eye. After months of self reflection Mallory slowly started to find her own answers to her number one question, why? It slowly became very evident to her that everything happens for a reason and she shares this very rare emotional journey with the audience by sharing her personal journals from throughout her journey. Mallory’s story sends the audience through their own self reflection as she challenges everyone to realize their own journey and insists that no odds are too large to overcome.
“You’re the Best, you can make a Difference, and you can Change the World”
The phrase spoken to Mallory and her sisters by her father every night before they went to bed, is something which Mallory lives by everyday. Mallory emphasizes that everyone goes through struggles, and everyone has some sort of “disability,” some of them just not as obvious as hers. Yet, everyone has the ability to overcome their “disabilities” and make a difference (big or small) in the world. With her unique ability to speak to a packed house, and yet make every individual feel as if they are involved in a personal conversation, Mallory presented a challenge to her audience while speaking at the United Nations in September of 2013, ”live your life with passion, with heart, free of fear, hate and judgment, be courageous, and know that in any given moment you can make a difference and you can change the world by your simple actions.”
Baby Steps: An Intimate Discussion on the Basic Forms of Leadership
Mallory breaks down the pillars of leadership into a more simplistic form, baby steps. As she insists that the only way to take a daunting task, a looming challenge, a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle and conquer it is through baby steps themselves. In October of 2008 Mallory found her own personal life was focused on change, through her journey and self reflection Mallory discovered that one of the greatest quality leaders can present is the ability to adapt to change. Mallory’s story appeals to anyone seeking a genuine and, at times, raw examination of one young woman’s journey through grief to the top of the Paralympic medal platform, from being confined to a chair to learning to walk again. Even though her spine will never heal, her spirit is active, captivating, and unstoppable.
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Marllory Weggemann was fantastic! What poise and grace! Her story is powerful—and she is so well spoken.
- | Aetna
Mallory lifted the entire room; I was completely blown away. We sometimes overuse words like “inspirational” or “awesome” or “courageous” and they lose their true meaning—not in this case; Mallory is all those and more. She reminded us what a person can do in the face adversity, and showed us we have the capacity to overcome obstacles, large or small, if we choose to and if we work at it. She’s inspired me to want to do better—that’s real leadership as far as I’m concerned.
- | Environmental Resource Management