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Marine Veteran. Paralympic Athlete. Mountain Climber.

AUGUST 18, 2017 | 3-minute read

Kionte woke up every morning with the same question: “Why am I still alive?”

After the U.S. Marine Corps Veteran stepped on an IED during a morning patrol in Afghanistan, he found himself in a hospital bed, his right leg gone below his knee. He also had nerve damage, an injured left leg, and a traumatic brain injury.

“I felt like I should have died,” Kionte remembers.

Kionte longed to be back with “[his] guys.” He was frustrated with his injuries, experienced depression, and began abusing his medication. “It was very hard to find that glimmer of hope or a light at that time.”

But eventually Kionte began to ask himself another question: “What makes me happy?” The answer led him to sports, and to the Paralympics, and ultimately to the highest mountain in Antarctica.

“Being [around] active people encouraged me to be more active,” he says. “When you see another amputee doing something you thought you couldn’t do, you’re just like, ‘I want to do that — but better.’”

In February 2017, Kionte sat down with Make the Connection to share his inspiring story. Over the course of four days in San Diego, we had the pleasure of hearing from more than 30 Veterans from all backgrounds and experiences.

Watch the video below to hear this Marine’s story of strength.


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