Mallory Weggemann

2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist

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Traveling From: Minnesota

Biography
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2012 Paralympian Mallory Weggemann’s life changed on January 21, 2008. Weggemann received an epidural injection to help treat back pain; however, complications with the procedure left the college freshman paralyzed from the belly button down.

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2012 Paralympian Mallory Weggemann’s life changed on January 21, 2008. Weggemann received an epidural injection to help treat back pain; however, complications with the procedure left the college freshman paralyzed from the belly button down.

Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. After her injury at the age of 18, she chose to return to the pool. In April 2008, her older sister found an article in the local newspaper highlighting the Paralympic Swimming Trials for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The meet was being held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Still coping with her new disability, Weggemann found one thing unchanged—her love for swimming.

While attending the meet as a spectator, she met several of the U.S. national team coaches. The following Monday, Weggemann returned to the pool and has been swimming ever since. She touts her Paralympic trials experience as life changing: “I have always loved the sport, but when this happened I thought my days of swimming were over and when I realized I could still do it, well I will never forget that moment.”

Weggemann broke her first set of world records in Edmonton, Alberta, in July 2009. At the 2009 Short Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, she broke six more world records and took home five gold medals. In August 2010 at the Long Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Weggemann proved herself again in the pool by taking home eight gold medals and one silver. She finished the meet with nine world records. In July 2011, Weggemann was recognized for her outstanding performance at the 2010 World Championships by ESPN when she was awarded the ESPN ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

In August 2012, just days after being reclassified at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Weggemann showcased her amazing abilities by winning gold and setting a Paralympic record in the 50m freestyle. She also anchored the bronze-medal-winning 4x100m medley relay team, bringing USA back from fifth place to almost capturing gold. It has been deemed one of the most memorable moments of the London Games, and it inspired many across the world.

Just under four months after becoming paralyzed, Weggemann was back in the pool, with her eyes on gold at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Having achieved that goal, she decided it was time to chase her ultimate dream—to walk again. For years, this was something that was deemed impossible, but a new possibility arose and in order to achieve her goal, Weggemann reached out to the public to ask for their support through a crowd-funding Indiegogo campaign.

On November 16, 2013, Weggemann’s dream came true and she was able to “walk” again for the first time in nearly six years with her loved ones by her side. In order to accomplish this dream, she worked very closely with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, to learn how to use her customized leg braces with the assistance of forearm crutches. Although Weggemann’s wheelchair will never be replaced by her customized leg braces and forearm crutches, they have allowed her to have short moments of upright mobility and the freedom of standing at her 5’9” stature again.

Currently, Weggemann continues to train in pursuit of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and is actively building upon her career outside of the pool through motivational speaking and other public appearances around the world. She will also be featured in The Current, a documentary produced by Make A Hero, a non-profit organization focused on inspiring individuals with disabilities to enjoy the freedom of adaptive sports.

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Media files by Mallory Weggemann

  • Mallory Weggemann: Media File 1
  • Mallory Weggemann: Media File 2
  • Mallory Weggemann: Media File 3
  • Mallory Weggemann: Media File 4

Speaker Programs (Click on each program to view the description)

Personal Story, Everything Happens for a Reason
(includes moving anecdotes from personal journals) Mallory Weggemann discusses the day she became paralyzed back in January 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 each of her experiences. 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 Weggemann and her sisters by her father every night before they went to bed is something which Mallory lives by every day. Mallory emphasizes that everyone goes through struggles and everyone has some sort of a "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 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 Weggemann 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 2008, Mallory found her own personal life was focused on change. Through her journey and self-reflection, she discovered that one of the greatest qualities 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.

Topics

  • Olympians
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Sports

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