Meet Corey Petersen, retired Marine Staff Sergeant, Semper Fi Fund Community Outreach Coordinator, and a member of Team Semper Fi, the "Recovery Through Sports" program of the Semper Fi Fund . Corey was recently selected as Ms. Wheelchair California-2011. Corey is the first Veteran to hold the title of Ms. Wheelchair California, and also claimed the title of Ms. Congeniality!
Corey is not new to competition. She has won Gold Medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games 2010 in Javelin, Shot put and bowling, and took home the Silver in handcycling. Corey was the first female to compete in the wheelchair division of the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon, finishing in 2:32. She was also the 3rd female to finish in the wheel chair division of the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon.
In a recent interview, we discovered that Corey's approach to life has been key in her recovery and accomplishments. Up close and personal with Corey Petersen:
Corey, we are so proud of your accomplishments and want others to benefit from your experience and wisdom.
1. You really encompass the true spirit of Team Semper Fi. Tell us who or what inspired you to embrace that fighting, athletic spirit to assist in your recovery? Hmmm…I would love to say I had it prior to my injury. I joined the Marine Corps because it was the hardest physically. I want challenges in my life. Although this is a challenge I wouldn’t have normally wanted to face, I’ve tried to approach it that way. Maybe it was the fact I had AMAZING support from my husband Brad, my sister, and my best friends Jessie and Morgan. I also had an incredible physical therapist that never babied me. That’s how I am able to be where I am today...independent and strong as I possibly can and never forgetting how lucky I am to have what I have…that others out there have it worse. I never forget that.
2. What was the most difficult challenge you faced during your own recovery process and how did you overcome that challenge? I think it was harder for me to realize that I had to give up being an active duty Marine than [to give up] walking. I had a set life plan in my head...but that wasn’t going to happen. I got through it because of the Semper Fi Fund. They gave me another purpose in life. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them. Yes they helped make our house accessible and helped in other ways, BUT mainly they gave me a job and something to care about. They gave me a purpose, I love the fund, I love our mission, I love the people I work for and with, I love being able to help those that are going through what I have been through and I love the sports I get to do. I am extremely lucky to have the fund in my life. I owe them SO much.
3. You have shown that you won't let your injury hold you back from living life to the fullest. What words of wisdom or encouragement do you have for others facing recovery from their own life changing injuries? I think I would say that it does get better, there are ways to be independent, there are ways to stay active, there are ways to get a purpose back in your life. Be grateful for what you have cause there are others out there that have it worse. Get on with life and get involved in the amazing sports that Team Semper Fi can provide. The events are fun and you will meet others that have been through similar obstacles, have overcome them and regained the confidence to find a new purpose in life.
My favorite saying is that "you can let the disability rule your life, get depressed and stay in bed, but that would be so boring and just seems like a major waste of time, so GETUP and GET ON WITH IT!"
We appreciate you, Corey, for sharing your fighting spirit with others and for continuing to spread the word about the benefits of sports for rehabilitation. You are an inspiration to Team Semper Fi members, Veterans, and others with disabilities. We wish you all the best during your reign as Ms Wheelchair California and look forward to cheering you on in your future endeavors!
See more pictures and video of Corey.