Olympic gold medalist campaigns for healthy hearts

Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-15 00:42:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Nikki Stone won an Olympic gold medal, but another life changing event is the reason the now best-selling author and motivational speaker works to spread the word about healthy lifestyles: her father’s heart attack.

Stone’s childhood ambition was to win Olympic gold.

“I had dreamt of winning a gold medal since I was five years old,” she said.

But the journey from childhood hopes to realizing that goal wasn’t easy.

“There were a number of challenges in order to get to that Olympic gold,” she said. “I actually had to overcome my fear of heights, and going 50 feet in the air for aerial skiing, it was an enormous challenge.”

The fear may have been in her head, but Stone faced physical challenges as well. Stone injured her spine, and doctors told her she’d never ski again. That didn’t stop Stone, who won the gold medal in Japan 18 months later.

“To be there in that moment and to feel like every sacrifice you had made, every hurdle that you had gone through, every tear, pain, sweat, everything you'd been through ....To stand in that moment, to hear your country's national anthem, you know, I had chills up and down my entire body,” she said.

Stone is a motivational speaker now, and her book “When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out” is a best-seller.

Stone’s father had a heart attack several years ago, and she said she wants to help spread awareness about heart disease, particularly among women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women.

“A lot of women, they don't... they think of it as a man's disease, but really there are so many women dying from this disease, more than every cancer combined,” she said.

Stone said she hopes her message about health and fitness will motivate and empower women to make positive lifestyle changes. She said if she can find the time to exercise while juggling being a mother, a motivational speaker and an author, then others can as well. Stone said exercising makes those other areas of her life improve.

“I find that I'm a better speaker,” she said. “I'm a better mom. I'm a better person when I can feel good about myself.”

Stone will be the keynote speaker at the Go Red For Women luncheon on Friday, April 26. The event is in downtown Salt Lake City. For more information about the event, click here.