Local warrior trains for Paralympics
We at Excelsior Lodge #11 are very proud of our brother and member SSG. Corbin Stacey
USA Para Taekwondo National Team member, PATU North America and Island territory Para Committee members Coordinator.
Corbin Stacey, of Cleveland Heights, was an injured army veteran who at one time couldn't even walk. Now he's in Mexico for the Pan Am Para Championships. He’s positioned to be on the first Paralympic TaeKwonDo team in 2020.
The 46-year-old U.S. Army Veteran Staff Sergeant is a force to be reckoned with, but he got here against the odds.
Stacey had served two tours of duty overseas when he broke his neck back home training in 2009. At first he couldn't feel anything or move from the neck down.
He started to improve and started doing every kind of para sport he could.
"Six months later, I was up and walking, so I didn't look back once I got the good news," said Stacey.
Stacey quickly became the first African American to compete in Para TaeKwonDo.
"I'm the first African American champion, and the first American champion," said Stacey.
Currently Stacey is ranked fourth in the world in Para TaeKwonDo for athletes with disabilities.
“I still can't raise my arm to block my head, but if I'm going to go out there, I'm going to go out there 110 percent! Blood sweat and tears. I got out of bed, and I'm out here," said Stacey.
It’s hard to feel sorry for himself, Stacey says, when he's in the inspirational company of other para competitors from around the world.
"The guy from Morocco can eat with his feet because he has no arms. He can take a tea cup, drink out of it from his foot, and then go out on the floor and kick your butt," Stacey laughed.
Back at home, Stacey gives back with free TaeKwonDo programs for kids and veterans.
“They know that they can't give up. Because if I'm still doing it, they should be doing better than me," says Stacey.
Stacey is also a former paramedic and Cleveland Public Safety Academy Instructor, who started The Warriors public safety forces football team.
The father of three is set to represent the USA in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, a first for Para TaeKwonDo.
His motivation comes from other fighters and to those fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I just think about the guys who didn't make it. I lost four friends this year to suicide. I’m fighting for them. For 32 dudes from 2007 till now who killed themselves. I honor them every day,” says Stacey fighting back tears.
His wife Andrea says that's a rare moment when Corbin talks about a raw painful part of his life.
But the resilient champ is proven TaeKwonDo tough.
His youngest son is 17-years-old. He has an 18-year-old team mate.
The 46-year-old says he is confidently up to the challenge of training with people half his age.