World-Class Moms: Meet Five Of Team USA's Coolest Moms

By Stafford Braxton | May 14, 2017, 10:29 a.m. (ET)

Like any mother, these moms want to make their kids proud. But unlike most mothers, these women are star Paralympic athletes whose talent, resilience, and drive have taken them around the globe to compete in the most elite Games in the world. Combined, these athletes hold six Paralympic medals, across summer and winter sports. Read how motherhood has changed the lives of these four Paralympic veterans and one Paralympic hopeful.   

Melissa Stockwell - Paratriathlon
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How has being an elite-level athlete challenged you as a mother?
"Being an elite-level athlete and a mother can be a challenge especially when all the other parts of your life keep on moving. Realizing that it's okay to still have my own ambitions and dreams and to go for them even though that means not being around all the time is important. Saying goodbye for a week or two at a time for training or a race is never easy, and it's been a challenge and a process to learn that it is okay to do that. It has also helped me appreciate the times I have together with my family even more and to keep our days as structured as we can so I can get everything in; At least as structured as you can be with a 2.5 year old and another one due in August!"

What is your favorite thing about having your child/children on this journey with you?
"My journey has truly become a family affair and I love that my kids will grow up seeing their mom swimming, biking a running around the world with only one leg. I love that they see athletes with all kinds of disabilities and what they are capable of doing. To share that with them at such a young age is priceless. Seeing them along the race course and hearing the 'go mommy', I can't help but smile and push through any pain I am feeling."

How did things change for you as an athlete once you became a mother?
"Being a mother puts things into perspective. In the past, if I had a bad training run or workout, it used to ruin my day. Now I come home, see my little boy and can't help but smile and think about how lucky I am, and my bad training session takes a backseat. When I am away from home for training or racing, I want to make the most of it because being away never gets an easier. I also have a whole new appreciation of FaceTime!"

What pushes you to become a better athlete and mother?
"I always want to be the best that I can be. Those ideals have been ingrained in me from a young aspiring gymnast, in the military, after my injury, and continues throughout my athletic career and as a mom. When you are passionate about something, I think it's natural to want to give it your best!"

Danelle Umstead - Alpine Skiing
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How has being an elite-level athlete challenged you as a mother?
"I have had to make sacrifices as a mother to be an elite athlete. I travel a lot without my son. Missing performances, bedtimes, morning laughs, his progress in his sports, I cry every time I leave him. He tries to be strong, and always counts down the sleeps until I get home."

What is your favorite thing about having your child/children on this journey with you?
"My son is so proud of his mommy. He is my biggest fan, win or lose. Even though he misses me a lot, he wants me to work hard, so I can be my best. The admiration, love, and pure joy he gets from our life, he grew up only knowing this lifestyle. My goal is to represent Team USA at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang - and bring Brocton there to cheer us on. This will be his first Paralympic games. Having his parents represent Team USA, and having him there cheering us on, will be my biggest moment in sport and life for me."

How did things change for you as an athlete once you became a mother?
"Focus: I focus on being present. When I am competing and training, I try to stay focused on my sport. When I am with my son (if it is on Skype or at home) I am 100 percent present and with him. Work ethics: also want to show my son it is important to work hard, never give up, and that anything is possible."

What pushes you to become a better athlete and mother?
"Being a mother pushes me to be a better athlete. It is pure motivation. A quote I love, about being a mother: being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you never knew existed." 

Brenna Huckaby - Snowboarding
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How has being an elite-level athlete challenged you as a mother?
"I want nothing more than to be a stay at home mom and a Paralympian. Chasing this dream has challenged me as a mother because it takes me away from home. I'm away more than the 9-5. For weeks I miss the morning snuggles, the good night kisses and everything in between. I can't get those days back no matter how hard I try, but in order to be great in my sport these are the sacrifices I must make." 

What is your favorite thing about having your child/children on this journey with you?
"It's become more than me and my snowboard. I have someone else I'm doing this for. I have always said, 'you can't do this for anyone else but yourself.' Well, Lilah is an extension of myself, so I guess it's okay to do this for her too. It's so much more rewarding to get a medal because I know when she's old enough, she'll cherish it as much as I do."

How did things change for you as an athlete once you became a mother? 
"I have to plan out everything. Every minute of the day counts. I can no longer just go to the gym or go ride whenever I please. I have to make sure I have a sitter. She's not like a dog, I can't just put her in a kennel and call it good. I have to always make sure she's in safe hands before I do anything alone. Before I had Lilah I was so free."

What pushes you to become a better athlete and mother?
"Like I said before, I'm no longer just doing this for me. I'm leaving my home for weeks at a time. I'm leaving the memories I could be making. I'm leaving the laughter and the snuggles. I'm leaving my best friends, so this motivates me and pushes me further than I thought I could be pushed. I call it the mama bear in me. Mama ain't leaving for any other reason than to get her cub a gold medal! If I'm leaving all this behind I better make it worth while!" 

Margaret McIntosh - Equestrian
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How did things change for you as an athlete while raising children? 
"I broke my neck at a competition in 1999, when my children were in the sixth and eighth grade. Suddenly, their lives revolved around trips to the rehabilitation hospital and, a little later, helping me with bathing, dressing and countless quotidian tasks. They adapted to this new lifestyle without complaint, watching me progress from being completely paralyzed from the chest down to regaining the ability to walk and ski and ride horses competitively, as I had before my accident."

What is your favorite thing about having your child/children on this journey with you?
"My daughter, Charlotte, accompanied me to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, the culmination of all those years of hard work. Her pride in sharing that long journey with me was surpassed only by my joy at having her by my side!"

Jamie Whitmore - Cycling
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How has being an elite-level athlete challenged you as a mother? 
"The biggest challenge is missing out on time with my kids. I travel for races which causes me to be away for weeks at a time."

What is your favorite thing about having your child/children on this journey with you?
"Having my boys on this journey with me means they get to experience firsthand what it means to work hard, sacrifice, fail, win and be grateful through it all. Win or lose they get to see mommy living out her dream."

How did things change for you as an athlete once you became a mother? 
"The biggest thing that changed for me as an athlete when I became a mother was my recovery. It is hard to take the time to recover from training because I put my kids first. When I get off the bike, I usually go right into mom mode. Running errands, cooking, helping out with homework or settling an argument!"

What pushes you to become a better athlete and mother?
"Being the best I can be!! That's what motivates me. I am over the top with everything I do, including snack days. I love to get kids hyped up about food and themes. It helps them learn to expand their thinking and what's out there! I'm the same way on the bike. I will give it everything I have in training and in racing!"