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.
Marllory Weggemann was fantastic! What poise and grace! Her story is powerful—and she is so well spoken.
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.