Military vet to share her tale of grit and spirit

CeCe Mazyck of Columbia is paralyzed, but that won't stop her

Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck of Columbia is a paralyzed U.S. Army Reserves veteran, but she is anything but a helpless victim.

In 2003, during a routine parachute-training jump at Fort Bragg, N.C., Mazyck damaged her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors told the University of South Carolina graduate she would never walk again.

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Columbia native Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck (Photo provided)

Mazyck didn’t bother to listen to her doctors. Neither did she intend to give up her active, athletic lifestyle.

Since the incident, Mazyck has become an accomplished Paralympian, winning a bronze medal at the World Championship Games in Lyon, France, becoming a Track and Field gold medalist at the Paralympic Trials for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and a 22-time gold medalist at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

On Nov. 10, Mazyck will share her story at a TED-style “Storytellers” event hosted by the veterans’ empowerment group, Got Your 6, and Discovery Communications, showcasing inspirational stories of the nation’s veterans. The event will also be live-streamed on the Got Your 6 Facebook page, as well as via the American Heroes Channel’s Facebook page.

Got Your 6 is military parlance for, “I got your back.” The program aims to challenge and reverse negative stereotypes about veterans that portray them as unemployed, under-educated, homeless, and afflicted by mental health issues.

The stories that will be presented by Mazyck and others seek to demonstrate a much different narrative.

“Mazyck’s story will show that America’s more than 20 million veterans are deeply engaged pillars of their communities,” organizers said.

The Got Your 6 Storytellers program gathers veterans who talk about their ideas, accomplishments, philosophies, and the many contributions they are making in their communities and workplaces. The program helps increase awareness of Got Your 6’s campaign to shift the narrative of veterans as “broken heroes” to one focusing on veterans as leaders and civic assets.

“At Discovery, we celebrate the remarkable work of our service men and women, along with the entire veteran community, so it is a true pleasure to host Got Your 6’s first-ever D.C. Storytellers event,” Kevin Bennett, executive vice president and general manager, American Heroes Channel, said in a news release. “These storytellers represent some of our nation’s best and brightest, so we are humbled to partner with Got Your 6 to share their inspiring stories and ultimately empower the veteran community.”

“There’s no better way to celebrate Veterans Day than by surrounding yourself with some of the most talented veteran leaders, entrepreneurs, and entertainers in America,” said Bill Rausch, Iraq War veteran and executive director of Got Your 6.

A study commissioned by Got Your 6 revealed that the general population believes veterans are more likely than civilians to be unemployed, undereducated, homeless, and to be afflicted with mental health issues. The reality is much more complex, Rausch said, and the entertainment industry has a role to play in changing the narrative.

Categories: Columbia, Local News, Local Voices, Military, Richland County

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