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NEWS | Nov. 29, 2017

ARNORTH hosts author, speaker to share her inspirational story

By Sgt. Christopher A. Hernandez Army North Public Affairs

U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) will be featuring Carlana Stone, a paraplegic author and motivational speaker, on Dec. 8 for a two-part presentation as part of the Army’s Ready and Resilient program at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Stone is slated to speak at the Fort Sam Houston Theater at two separate sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Soldiers should consult with their respective chain-of-commands to verify which presentations they have been scheduled for.  

A native of Louisiana, Stone was just 16 years old at the time of the accident that cost her the use of her legs.

“In the blink of an eye, my life changed,” Stone said. “It was a new, weird reality that I had to step into, adapt, and figure out how to navigate on my own.”

Before the accident, Stone was actively engaged in gymnastics and cheerleading at Saint Vincent Academy in Shreveport, La. On April 21, 1985, Stone and three of her friends got in a car and travelled to Dallas, Texas to check out a New Wave-themed night club. As the quartet drove back to Shreveport, the driver feel asleep at the wheel, causing the vehicle to skid off-road and hit a bridge embankment.

Although her friends walked away from the crash without any injuries, the impact broke Stone’s back, resulting in her paralysis.

When she received the prognosis that she would need to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life, Stone said that she refused to let her predicament keep her down.

“We all have our challenges, but circumstances don’t define us,” Stone said. “Circumstances merely provide opportunities for us to find out what we are truly made of. And if we use those opportunities, that’s when our true mettle is revealed.”

To guide her through the healing process, Stone achieved a multitude of accomplishments that defied her physical limitations. She became a prominent reporter for an ABC affiliate in Miami and served as television producer for shows such as A&E’s Intervention and The Biggest Loser. Furthermore, she set the precedent as one of the world’s first paraplegics to fly an airplane, routinely goes on skydiving and scuba-diving excursions, and even operates a custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Stone said that she also invests a significant portion in her time and energy to interact with other people with their own personal conflicts, including war veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My wheelchair has been a great conversation starter, because people immediately identify me as somebody who has struggled just like them,” Stone said. “We’re all paralyzed in some way and we all have our own proverbial wheelchairs.

We learn so much about ourselves through others, and it’s absolutely cathartic,” Stone said.

Stone is to serve as the keynote speaker of the upcoming resiliency event at the personal recommendation of Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, ARNORTH Commanding General.

According to Stone, she is looking forward to the opportunity to speak with members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“There’s no greater example of a resilient spirit then that of our service men and women,” Stone said.