A Letter from Corporal Kionte Storey

Cpl. Kionte Storey during a recent climb.  (Courtesy of Kionte Storey)

Cpl. Kionte Storey during a recent climb.  (Courtesy of Kionte Storey)

My name is Cpl. Kionte Storey. I am 29 years old, and I was born Stockton, California. I’m a retired United States Marine. I proudly served my country with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cpl. Kionte Storey (left) with American Flag

When I was 19 I joined the Marines. The year was 2007. I was deployed to Haditha, Iraq in 2008, and served there until February 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In March 2010, I was deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. Roughly six months later, on an early morning in September 2010, what seemed like any other day turned out to be the moment my life would change forever. Our unit, comprised of 12 marines and 3 members of the Afghan National Army (ANA), mobilized to set up an ambush area in South Sangin (Helmend Provence). Our goal was to clear a building, making sure it was empty. No enemy soldiers, no explosive devices.  

As our unit was moving through, an Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.) lay hidden in the hallway near the entrance. Near the end of the patrol, I took 3 steps into the building, unaware of the I.E.D. Everyone else had stepped over it, but I hit the trigger.

The blast caused traumatic injury to my right leg and badly fractured my left. Our Navy Corpsman rushed to my side, stabilizing my vitals, and assessed the situation. The extent of my injuries left our medical care unit with only one option – amputation. My right leg fell victim to something I never even saw coming.  

Kionte Storey recovering back home

Following the blast and subsequent evacuation, I was transported to Bethesda, Maryland. Once there I went through series of medical procedures before being transferred to the Naval Medical Center of San Diego (NMCSD) Balboa Hospital where I started my recovery phase. After months of being in a wheel chair, I started to learn how to walk again. My right leg was no longer there and my left foot had sustained serious nerve damage. Eventually, I was able to manage the pain in order to get up and start moving around.

Despite the discomfort, during most of my recovery I was very active. I participated in Paralympic sports camps which brought continuous movement back to my life. It helped both on mental and physical levels. I trained for 4 years to make the Paralympics as a sprinter in the 200/100m sprint and 400m sprint. Additionally, in 2013, I reached the summit of the highest point in Antarctica known as Mt. Vinson. This was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Former U.S. Marine corporal Kionte Storey, center, is seen at the summit of Antartica

A few weeks ago, I returned from Ecuador, where I was working with an organization known as Range of Motion Project. The goal of the project is to offer prosthetic care to countries who do not have the means to provide that type of medical care to their citizens. While there, our team of amputees and elite climbers attempted to summit Vulcan Cayambe - the third highest mountain in Ecuador. Unfortunately, due to weather, we were not able to summit the mountain, but the trip was still a complete success. 

Now, as I write this, from August 17th-28th, my friend Jake Rath and I will be climbing on behalf of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation as we attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Our goal is to raise money for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. All proceeds go towards helping wounded veterans and their families make a smooth transition back to civilian life after they’ve sustained injuries like mine. Summit or no summit, scaling Kilimanjaro is more than just a climb for me. The expedition is a chance for me to help wounded veterans and their families adjust to life back home, but also to serve as inspiration to those who are going through what I endured. It may not fix everything, but time heals.  

Kionte Storey with The Range of Motion Project

I ask you to follow along and read more about the Bob Woodruff and Steven & Alexandra Foundations. The work they’re both doing is incredible. Additionally, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation will be making a matching grant of up to $500,000 during our endeavor - $1 for each like, post, share on social media using #Give2Veterans and @cohengive.

I love my country. I’ll never stop fighting and climbing for the stars and stripes. Onward and upward.

     - Kionte

Additional Information:

Kili Fundraiser Page

https://www.classy.org/campaig n/give2veterans-mt-kilimanjaro -expedition/c138117

Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation blog post

http://www.steveandalex.org/gi ve2veterans/

Bob Woodruff Foundation #Give2Veterans Page

https://bobwoodrufffoundation. org/give2veterans/

You can also follow Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation (@CohenGive) and Bob Woodruff Foundation (@Stand4Heroes) on social media for more posts you can share as we go along.

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