Vets 1st on Memorial Day - Podcast with Carlana Stone
Carlana Stone, author of the acclaimed book “Never Give In, Never Give Up”, was paralyzed in a car accident at age 17. In the blink of an eye, Carlana went from cheerleader and gymnast to paraplegic. Not adhering to the stigma and physical restraints of her injury, Carlana forged ahead.
Carlana has chosen to embrace her wheelchair as a force, rather than a hindrance. In stark contrast to the stereotypes placed on the physically disabled, since her accident Carlana has become a certified scuba diver, learned to pilot airplanes, and enjoys sky diving, sailing and skiing.
Using her “chair” as a “platform” for social change, Carlana has become a strong voice in support of stem cell research. “The possibilities are limitless,” Stone says. “Stem cell research will impact millions of lives. I’m committed to doing all I can to make this promise a reality.”
And she’s not all talk. Carlana’s get-up-and-go philosophy has turned many of her dreams into realities. At 25, Carlana became the first wheelchair-bound reporter for ABC in Miami, featured 5 days a week on the evening news. As the station’s dynamic human-interest reporter, viewers could not help but be influenced by Carlana’s infectious enthusiasm and genuine concern for the people behind the stories she shared during her 2-year tenure on WPLG-TV.
Broadening her scope, Carlana moved to Los Angeles to launch a career in talk shows, producing an array of daytime talk shows, such as Leeza, Judge Judy, and Ben Stein, just to name a few. She then went on to produce and Senior Produce Prime Time Network Specials. Currently, Carlana is the Senior Casting Producer for “Intervention” the award-winning documentary series on A & E.
Carlana is also a highly sought-after International Speaker; delivering keynotes in venues ranging from Britain’s illustrious House of Lords to being highlighted at FAWCO International’s annual convention in Berlin, Germany, to keynoting for one of America’s largest employers, Entertainment Partners, in Los Angeles.
Over the last 2 decades, Carlana has toured a variety of schools here in America and England alike, including world-renowned, TASIS, The American School in England. Her passion is to provide content-rich opportunities, a warm and nurturing environment where diversity is prized. Through her personal struggles, Carlana empathizes with others and can share her unique insight to be a vehicle for empowering children and young adults to believe that ANYTHING IS and CAN BE POSSIBLE.
Carlana is called on regularly to represent and speak on behalf of a number of charities, including Americans for Cures Foundation, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and the National Pain Foundation, which honored Carlana as 2007’s Pain Awareness Patient Ambassador of the Year.
Fueled by her own philosophy, “Pay no attention to boundaries,” in 2006, Carlana founded The Courage Community and is using her own experience in the face of adversity to support our veterans as they confront the brutal aftermath of war. Carlana is helping soldiers realize their true potential and achieve their dreams. Carlana states:
“It is my dream and ambition to offer our injured Veterans the hope of a better future, and a richer quality of life. We will be sponsoring initiatives which will provide our service men and women access to resources to address even their most basic needs - programs that have enhanced the quality of my own life in spite of my disability. The sky’s the limit!”
The Courage Community will schedule events, appearances, and targeted awareness campaigns in virtual communities as well as launching grass-roots campaigns in local communities, establishing Courage Community Chapters nationwide, engaging community members to become directly involved in supporting their own hometown heroes.
Following her record-making solo-flight as one of the first female paraplegics in the world to solo-pilot a single-engine aircraft, Carlana was featured on every local LA news affiliate, including, KABC, KNBC, KCBS, KTTV; Carlana was also featured on numerous local and national radio shows including, KABC and KFWB; Carlana has appeared in several articles in a host of national and international flight magazines.
In March, 2008, Carlana was chosen to become one of ten contestants on Oprah Winfrey’s Big Give, airing Sunday nights on ABC. This marked a critical day in history for Carlana, as she became the first paraplegic to appear on a national primetime network reality show. “I applaud Oprah and ABC for their willingness to step outside the box and cast me on the show. It’s an honor to be on an equal, level playing field with the other contestants, and have the onus focused on my ability, not my disability.”
A veterans’ self-help guide from the United Spinal Association advises all veterans with disabilities how to establish that a current disability or condition is related to military service or existed before military service and was aggravated by such service.
Any claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation must have a valid medical diagnosis of a current disability, medical evidence that the disability had its onset during active military service and medical evidence of a linkage between active military service and the current disability.
The online guide, available at www.unitedspinal.org/publications/vetsfirst/, also provides information about VA pensions for veterans whose disabilities are not related to military service and the circumstances under which such pensions might be available.
Other important VA programs covered in the guide include: benefits for dependents and survivors of veterans; the VA health-care system; appeals of claims for VA compensation and pension; and, getting help from VA-authorized veterans service organizations such as the United Spinal Association.
While this publication contains some information specific to VA benefits for veterans with spinal cord injuries and diseases such as multiple sclerosis and ALS, much of its content is applicable to any veteran of U.S. military service.
The United Spinal Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries or disorders, especially through its VetsFirst program. For more information, visit www.unitedspinal.org or call (800) 404-2898.