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Melissa Stockwell Inspires at Boys Town Booster Banquet

​ Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient, Paralympic Medalist, wife and mother…Melissa Stockwell is many things and one of those things is an inspiration to others. Stockwell spoke at the 55th Annual Booster Banquet, held April 26 at the Embassy Suites LaVista Conference Center, and captivated the audience of nearly 1,200 Boys Town supporters and kids with the story of her journey overcoming adversity and the lessons learned along the way.

Stockwell shared about her passion for athletics and her country and how they led her to the war in Iraq and that fateful day in April 2004 when she lost her leg after her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. “I was 24 years old and in a second, my leg was gone,” she said. But after looking around the hospital at other injured soldiers, she realized, “I am the lucky one, with one leg,” and that she was “…not going to let losing a leg stop me from doing anything I wanted to do.”

Stockwell added, “Sometimes it’s not about the medals, it’s about the journey to get there. It’s about overcoming things that come your way that you never expect but having the heart to persevere through them and end up better on the other side.”

To those in attendance, Stockwell asked that when they left the event that evening, they take a few lessons that she has learned with them:

  • "I’ve learned that you can’t do it on your own. Teamwork, it’s all around us. You guys are a team. We need people more than ever, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being here (at Boys Town), you are already on your way.”
  • “We don’t give ourselves enough credit on the things we are capable of doing.”
  • “How do you skip the roadside bomb and find your own potential? You start by believing that you can. You say, ‘Actually, I can.’”
  • “The next time things don’t go your way, what are you going to do? How are you going to make a choice and chose to rise up? Because all of you have the ability to make your life whatever it is you want it to be.”

Stockwell’s message resonated with Boys Town youth, who often come from difficult backgrounds. Once here, Boys Town professionals work with these boys and girls to rebuild their trust and provide an opportunity for them to learn the life lessons many haven’t yet learned or have taken for granted. Team sports are an integral part of this care.

For many youth, Boys Town athletics is their first opportunity to participate in any kind of organized sport. Boys Town coaches focus on the team sport experience to build character, and not on the final outcome of the game. 

The annual Booster Banquet honors Boys Town student-athletes for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the season. Jay was named Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year and Elly was named Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, for their tremendous commitment to Boys Town athletics. Isabella and Tyler received the female and male Competing With Character (CWC) awards. To hear from our two CWC award winners, check out the video below.

Four Boys Town alumni also were recognized for their athletic achievements with their induction into the Boys Town Sports Hall of Fame. Ray Williams (1954) was inducted posthumously, while Philip Whitworth (1970), Joseph Ortiz (1969) and Bernard Jackson (1969) are living inductees. 

The Boys Town Boosters were formed 55 years ago to ensure that any child who is at Boys Town has the opportunity to play sports. Every year, the Booster Banquet brings Boys Town and the Omaha community together to recognize Boys Town’s student-athletes and raise funds for sports equipment, uniforms and other necessities. This support of Boys Town athletics guarantees youth have an outlet where they can have fun and learn valuable life lessons.

Thank you to all who joined us and to our speaker, Melissa Stockwell. If you had an opportunity to meet her in our VIP Room prior to the event, photos are available to download now.

The 2023 Boys Town Booster Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2. Save the Date!

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

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