By Michael Salmon
Mallory Weggemann, 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist & Motivational Speaker
Delivering a packed and powerful message of optimism and perseverance, Mallory Weggemann wowed the 2017 LA84 Foundation Summit audience with her personal story of triumph.
Rendered a paraplegic at the age of 17, Weggemann drew upon to guide her the words recited to her every day by her father: ‘You are the Best, You Can Make a Difference, and You Can Change the World’.
Weggemann feels strongly that every child deserves to hear that phrase over and over again. Whether from a parent, a coach, a mentor — no matter who delivers the message — she was emphatic children deserve the opportunity to hear it said to them.
Swimming and sport became Weggemann’s safe haven at a time when she needed it most after her injury. “Swimming saved me in every way imaginable after I was injured,” she emotionally recalled, giving a nod to a line from Kate Winslet’s Rose in Titanic. “The power of sport is something we should never underestimate.”
LA84 FEATURED GRANTEE: San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation
Weggemann became a world-class swimmer after her accident, winning Paralympic Games medals, and uses the opportunities competition and success afford her to promote her idea of inclusion. “Disabilities only disable us if we allow them to,” she said in an inspirational video shown on the stage. “My wheelchair has taken me more places than my legs ever did.”
Weggemann’s central goal, and motivation, is to see inclusion on the field of play. For her, inclusion in sport will carry over to inclusion in other parts of life. “The power of sport is something you can never underestimate,” she said.
“I dream of the day when we no longer have adaptive sport and non-adaptive sport. We just have sport.”