Today, the Summer Paralympics, tomorrow, ‘DWTS’? Triathlon star Melissa Stockwell tells HollywoodLife why she would love to add the mirror ball trophy to her collection.
It used to be that top-level athletes would head to Disneyland after achieving sports glory but in 2021? The next destination after winning a championship or gold medal is Dancing With The Stars – and Melissa Stockwell would love to join the cast after competing in the Triathlon at the 2020 Summer Paralympics. “That would be great!” she tells HollywoodLife while discussing her partnership with ChapStick’s new Operation Gratitude. “I feel that as elite athletes, we have this platform to show, especially Paralympic athletes, to show the world how much ability is in disabilities within sport.”
“If it carries over to something in the entertainment industry, whether it is Dancing with the Stars — I have some pretty sweet dance moves,” Melissa tells HollywoodLife. “But to elevate it more in the hopes that — maybe there is a little girl who just lost her leg? And she doesn’t know what she can do, and her parents might not be sure what her life might be like. And, if they watch the Olympic and Paralympic games and turn on the TV, and they see Dancing with the Stars and see an amputee on it? It gives them hope, and that is the greatest thing in what we do, just trying to inspire the next generation and give back.”
The subject of giving back is what brought Melissa and ChapStick together. In June, the lip balm brand announced it would support first responders and military with Operation Gratitude, a “nonprofit that connects Americans with those that serve to protect them,” per a press release. ChapStick has committed $100,000 “through both monetary and product donations to Operation Gratitude to support the organization in its mission is to forge strong bonds between Americans and the military and first responders in communities nationwide.” This donation will help fill and ship care packages to “deployed troops, recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders and healthcare heroes throughout the year.”
Melissa, a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army’s transportation corps, serving in Iraq in 2004. She lost her leg when her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, making her first female American soldier in history to lose a limb in active combat. Four years later, she became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympic Games, swimming in the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. Since then, she has shifted her focus to triathlon — an event she’ll compete in roughly two weeks after fracturing three of her lower vertebrae in a bike accident, per PEOPLE — and this partnership with ChapStick seems tailor-made for her.
A post shared by Melissa Stockwell (@mstockwell01)
“For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid ChapStick fan,” she tells HollywoodLife. “ChapStick is, like an American icon, and who doesn’t need ChapStick? My love of ChapStick has kind of shown through in all aspects of my life. After I lost my leg over in Iraq, the first thing I asked for was my ChapStick. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love Chapstick. So, being able to partner with this kind of iconic American brand — they support the military, they have done so many things for military families. They work with various organizations. They donate over a hundred thousand dollars worth of products. So just something that I’ve been a fan of for a long time, which it is now surreal and coming full circle to actually kind of, you know, be able to be an ambassador for the product.”
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Paralympics begin on August 24th on NBC.
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