Kionte Storey is on a journey to change lives after his life was forever changed seven years ago.
The Marine veteran was serving in Afghanistan when he lost his right leg below the knee to an improvised explosive device. He says he can handle the physical adjustment pretty well, but "it's more of a mental struggle. That's really the hardest battle of all."
He attempted to make the U.S. Paralympics team twice as a sprinter, but after he came up short, Storey found a new passion during a trip to Antarctica: mountain climbing.
“That was that mental breakthrough, at least for me, being on that mountain was just [an] incredible experience overall,” he said.
Storey is now in Ecuador preparing to make a 19,000-foot climb to the top of Cayambe volcano with an organization called Range of Motion Project (ROMP). The non-profit organization provides prosthetics and orthopedic care for people in underserved countries.
NBC 7 caught up with Storey on Cowles Mountain before he left for his healing journey. He was carrying a 40-pound backpack to help him cope with the effects of altitude during his South American climb.
But it’s not the only weight Kionte Storey carries with him, a weight he says he used to propel him up the mountain. “The way I got to the summit was just thinking about my friends we lost overseas during our deployment," he explains. “Knowing why you're out there is really going to get you to the top."
Storey has raised $4,200 for the Ecuador climb, which will help 10 people get prosthetic care. But his trek is just the beginning.
The Marine veteran’s next quest will be to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit veterans with traumatic brain injuries through the Bob Woodruff Foundation. His attitude about his newfound purpose is as inspiring as his determination to overcome his challenges.
"For me, it's just… providing as much happiness to others as I can," he said.