Centra "Ce-Ce" Mazyck and Disabled American Veteran's National Commander Robert T. Reynolds are both Army veterans who served in he 82nd Airborne Division. Commander Reynolds, a one-time participant and longtime volunteer ski instructor, recently presented Ce-Ce with the DAV Freedom Award for providing inspiration to her fellow participants.
On a particularly windy day in November 2003, Ce-Ce and other members of the Armyís 82nd Airborne Division went in their final parachute jump before the Thanksgiving holiday. The wind carried her into the canopy of another airborne soldierís parachute, and they plummeted toward the earth. Ce-Ce was able to free herself from the other soldierís chute, but her recovery came too late. She came down hard. Her feet and knees were apart, out of position for a proper landing.
"It felt like a rough landing, but that had happened before. I remember trying to get up, but I couldnít move. My legs were crossed, and when I tried to roll over, I knew something was wrong," Ce-Ce recalls. The jump had injured Mazyckís L1 and L2 vertebrae, leaving her instantly paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor told her family she would never walk again. But that didnít stop Mazyck from braving the altitude to ski at the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colo., this April. And following the event, which is co-sponsored by the VA and DAV, nothing could stop the retired sergeant first class from rising from her wheelchair to stand on a podium before her peers to receive the DAV Freedom Award ó the eventís most prestigious individual recognition for participants.
Following her injury, a doctor told her family that she would never walk again. For a single mother of a young toddler, her greatest fear was that she would not be able to provide for her son. "It didnít make me feel good that someone would tell that to my family." I always go against the odds. When I heard the doctor say "she would never walk again," I said "Weíll see." She would now like to go back to the hospital and walk up to that doctor today just to show him. She relied on her spiritual foundation as she recovered beyond her physicianís expectations. She reaches out to her fellow veterans whenever she feels her story can inspire them to overcome obstacles in their lives. She is fond of telling them, "You have to believe in yourself, not in what someone tells you."
Ce-Ce was raised by a loving grandmother. After completing an AA in Fashion Merchandise at Bauder College in Atlanta Georgia, she started looking at options to complete here Baccalaureate at the University of South Carolina. Her desired Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) required jump school training so she signed up with the 82nd Airborne. She has since retired as a Sergeant First Class.
She is now a junior majoring in Sociology at the University of South Carolina. Her mantra is ďAdapt and overcome.Ē
Ce-Ce participates is skiing, snowmobiling and sled hockey. While finishing her degree in sociology, she trains 3 day a week in the gym. Her goal: to make the U.S. Olympic Powerlifting Team. Anyone knowing her takes the goal seriously. Her 7 year old son is one of her biggest fans.
ďIím Centra Mazyck, Iím Ce-Ce. You donít know Iím an achiever. I was an athlete before I was disabled and Iím still an athlete. Iím still a soldier. That may well be true but to the rest of us she is an inspiration.
The photo © John Nimmo courtesy of Disabled American Veterans
Based upon an article by Daniel Clare in the July/August DAV Magazine