JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Building a resilient force is one of the Army’s top priorities. As part of the Army’s Ready and Resilient program, many guest speakers share their personal stories of adversity and triumph.
In a packed theater on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Dec. 8, a Shreveport, La., native shared her story about the fateful night she became paralyzed. This was Carlana Stone’s story.
“I was 16 years old the night my life forever changed,” she said. “After a night of drinking with my friends in Dallas, Texas, we decided to drive home and we got into a terrible accident.”
Everyone in the vehicle walked away unscathed, except Stone, who broke her back and legs, becoming paralyzed. She was never able walk again.
Stone spoke to Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians on how she’s dealt with hardships in her life and her path toward resiliency at the Fort Sam Houston Theater in a two-part presentation.
“When it first happened, I was in denial; I was an avid gymnast, a cheerleader and played several other sports, and now my life would look completely different than I imagined,” Stone said. “When you think of someone in a wheelchair, you think of someone who is really old or has some type of debilitating disease.”
As she reflected on the moment she was told she is paralyzed, asking herself, “How am I going to navigate my life now? Who am I? What do I have to offer now?”
Stone did not let her physical limitations hinder her from obtaining her goals. She went on to obtain a degree from University of California, Berkeley in Slavic languages. She then became the city of Miami’s first wheelchair-bound reporter and served as a television producer for various shows.
“Innovation is often the product of necessity,” Stone said.
Stone is not only a motivational speaker; she is also a celebrated author who enjoys skydiving, scuba diving and operating her custom-designed motorcycle.
Stone said she takes great pride in her immeasurable accomplishments.
“As I share my story, it helps others to open up to me and share their stories because we are all paralyzed in a way and the only way to overcome fear is through sharing our stories,” Stone said.
One of the Soldier’s in attendance was Sgt. 1st Class Talyia Williams, an automated logistics specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army).
“I really enjoyed listening to Mrs. Stone’s story,” Williams said. “Her trials and tribulations are so inspiring to me and I will always remember her story when I face adversity in my own life. Just seeing how resilient she remains is truly an amazing testament that exemplifies sheer willpower and determination.”
Stone said she was grateful to be the keynote speaker.
“It is such a privilege and honor to share my story with our nation’s service men and women who are the embodiment of the resilient spirit,” Stone said.
“Her story is powerful, and I hope leadership continue to have civilian guest speakers share their knowledge, experiences and most of all their stories,” Williams said.
“The key is to never give up; we can’t let our fears hinder us in our everyday life whether it’s physical or mental,” Stone said. “If I can help just one person get rid of any fear that may paralyze them through sharing my story, then I feel accomplished.”