by David Borzo
The real meaning of a tragic event is said to be the response, or rebirth that comes from it.
A hero is often described as someone who acts instinctively, jumping into risk without thinking about the consequences. But that’s not how it always is, and not in the case of Melissa Stockwell, the Iraqi war veteran, 2008 Paralympian and a 2010 Paratriathlon World Champion athlete. Her heroism has flourished for over eight years, a force borne from tragedy that drives her every day. Some look at the unfairness of their difficulties rather than the opportunities that lie within; perhaps it’s a true hero who contemplates both the difficulties and the opportunities – and then attacks them with clarity and passion. Melissa Stockwell is that hero.
Melissa made quite an impression on the Smart Talk Connected Conversations audience in Des Moines, the fourth SmartTalk speaker for this year. She detailed the dreadful story of the life changing injury in 2004, while she was Platoon Leader of a transportation unit near Baghdad. A roadside bomb blasted her Humvee, taking her left leg. Her response to that loss was courageous: she never dwelt on her injury, and instead feels like “one of the lucky ones” to be alive, and “…lucky to have lost only one leg” unlike many fellow soldiers who lost much more.
Melissa also impressed the Des Moines Civic Center crowd with her openness and honesty, freely sharing details of her victories, loses, loves, celebrations of life and her many legs (including one for running, one for biking and one for everyday use).
Her drive towards success is also a drive to help others in need, that’s why she co-founded Dare2tri, a Para triathlon club to help those who have suffered debilitating physical trauma. Dare2tri promotes embracing what you have, and making it work for you. That’s the central theme of Melissa’s message – celebrating life regardless of our limitations. Struggle is built into life and conflict is inevitable, but Melissa charges us to still living life to the fullest.
This commitment to life’s possibilities is illustrated in the film Warrior champions. From Bagdad to Beijing, a film highlighting during Melissa’s talk. It shows some of the challenges she has endured, as well as the stories of three other Para athletes as they pursue their dreams.
Melissa’s story is not one of those “happily ever after stories.” The hero doesn’t ride off into the sunset… and she’s not looking for that. No time to write her life story because she’s too busy building that life. She’s works for The Range of Motion Project, which allows her to help fit people with prosthetics; she is training for Para triathlon competition events on the world stage, and she speaks to groups all over the country. She feels she’s accomplished more in the last eight years than she imagined she would her whole life. Her inspiring SmartTalk presentation shows that Melissa is fulfilling the promise of her capabilities, a dynamic work in progress and a true hero for us all. Thank you for your service and commitment!
Tickets are only sold as a series subscription to all five events in the fall. On occasion, inventory permitting, single events and special packages may become available; check with the ticket office for details.
If a series is not sold out then tickets remaining will be sold as a sweries only at a prorated price for the remaining events.
SmartTalk ConnectedConversations™ is a division of Smart Talk Media, LLC
Smart Talk Media, LLC is a privately owned, multimedia company based in Tampa, Florida.
It is often the speaker whose views we don't agree with, or who we think we won't enjoy, who is the speaker that we often end up enjoying the most! It is often that these speakers change our views and opinions and intellectually stimulate us! While one may not agree with that view of the speaker, the point of the series is to bring to the community distiquished people who are telling their personal stories.
Sometimes speakers challenge our views, opinions and intellectually stimulate our thinking. It's helpful to be wise of other thought processes and opinions. You are not expected to agree or accept the views just because he or she is famous. If you do not agree often during the Q&A it's a good time to ask the speaker questions, challenge their views or a chance to express your views.
Hopefully we will always have speakers whom you disagree with - otherwise our series would be boring! There is tremendous value in having diverse opinions! So though you may not agree with them - they will at least give you and your girlfriends something to talk about!
This is what makes our country and our series so great - diverse opinions!
By contract, we are prohibited from distributing the program in any form. Some speakers allowed their talks to be recorded for archival purposes only.
When dealing with such high-profile people there is a small chance that a postponement or substitution of a speaker will occur. This has happened a few times in the past. When you purchase tickets to the series you must assume this very small risk. Our brochures and forms state that speakers are subject to substitutions and or rescheduling. We make every attempt to reschedule the same speaker at a later time or bring in a comparable speaker ont he same date.
Audio/Video recording as well as the taking of still photos by audience members is strictly prohibited. At this time we are not able to provide audiotape, videotape or transcript of the events and any recording we make is for archival purposes only.
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We’re here to provide opportunities, experiences and inspiration on all levels.
A team of SmartTalk staff along with outside opinions from sponsors and partners brainstorm about the best women (and men) to bring to the series based on several catagories like authors, celebrities, political figures, important women of our time, etc. After months of planning and picking various women the process of finding out if they can come on the dates the venues have given us begins. Once we have aligned a speaker with a date we secure them for the next season by signing contracts. This process often takes a lot of time and thought because we want to bring you a balance of different topics and different lives.
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The events last approximately 1.5 hours.
Format: 45 – 55 minute talk directly followed by a 30 minute moderated question and answer period. Bring a pen, questions cards will be provided in the evening program. No intermission.
Men are indeed welcome and some do attend and enjoy the series but they are definitely outnumbered!
On sale dates vary by city and season, however renewal information and descriptions of the speakers are mailed at the end of the season to all current subscribers. Current subscribers are given three weeks to respond before tickets are sold to the wait list and public consumers.
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Seats can only be purchased through the ticket office as a series subscription to all five events and are renewable from year to year. Renewing patron’s are given a protected period to purchase before public sale. On occasion, inventory permitting, single events and special packages may become available; check with your ticket office for details.
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We are frequently asked why tickets are sold only as a series and why individual lecture tickets are not always available. There are several reasons.
First and foremost, selling it as a series allows us to advertise the Speaker series at one time and reduces the overall cost of the series. If we had to advertise and market each speaker lecture (five times for each city) the cost for the series and the ticket prices would substancially be higher (more than double).
Second, speaker fees, security and travel have increased tremendously since we first started in 1991. By selling as a series we can afford to bring world class women to our series.
In addition, if tickets for individual lectures were sold, then it no longer would be a "series". By attending a full series you do not end up chosing your favorites only and missing the ones you don't know or agree with. The vast majority of our patrons have discovered that they get more out fof the series if they attend every lecture. They often find that the one they thought they wouldn't like becomes their favorites - don't believe us -read the testimonies on our website!
No - the series is a unique opportunity to share something inspirational with high school and college age students. Often, depending on the speaker, younger children may enjoy hearing her story as well! It provides a wonderful opporutnity for family dialogue on important issues such as politicts, current events, books, authors and inspiring women!
The series is so popular because it is a "real" live in person experience. Unlike television it's an interactive experience! It's a chance to hear from famous and empowering women such as Margaret Thatcher, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and more! They tell their personal "behind the scene" stories and let you into their lives. The speakers have a chance to elaborate at length about their lives opposed to "TV sound bites. When you hear and see them speak and have a chance to ask them questions directly, you can assess and develop your own opinion of the speaker as well as take away a great message that you can use in your life!
It's also a wonderful way to learn about a variety of subjects: history, international affairs, politics, current events, etc. Just think how many people in the world actually have an opportunity to hear, see and even meet these famous people in person! Often friends and small groups gather after the program to discuss the speaker and their topics - so it offers a chance to spend time with friends and family!
SmartTalk has been bringing women together to experience the power of the spoken word since 1991. Through a subscription of the series, you are exposed to the thoughts and insights of some of the most empowering women of our time! Our speakers share with the audience their unique and PERSONAL experiences and perspectives on a wide range of topics - politics, history, science, authors, busines and even arts and entertainment!
The series consist of 5 evenings begining in January and concluding in May.