On this episode, Host Tim Storey talks with Cedric King, a retired army master sergeant, speaker, and author, who will be the keynote speaker at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Indianapolis in August. King joined the army in 1995, eventually rising to a leadership role in the elite Army Rangers. On his third combat deployment in Afghanistan in 2012, King was leading a patrol in a small village when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and suffered horrific injuries, including the loss of both his legs. He survived those wounds and just 21 months later, King did what most of us would think impossible: He ran the Boston Marathon on prosthetic blades. He hasn't stopped since. He's competed in marathons, triathlons. He's written books, talked to audiences all over the country, and he's talked about his injuries and why that opened him up to the possibilities that we all have in our lives.
On this episode, Host Tim Storey talks with Cedric King, a retired army master sergeant, speaker, and author, who will be the keynote speaker at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Indianapolis in August.
King joined the army in 1995, eventually rising to a leadership role in the elite Army Rangers. On his third combat deployment in Afghanistan in 2012, King was leading a patrol in a small village when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and suffered horrific injuries, including the loss of both his legs.
He survived those wounds and just 21 months later, King did what most of us would think impossible: He ran the Boston Marathon on prosthetic blades. He hasn't stopped since. He's competed in marathons, triathlons. He's written books, talked to audiences all over the country, and he's talked about his injuries and why that opened him up to the possibilities that we all have in our lives.
TS: This is “Legislatures: The Inside Storey.” Thank you for listening. I am the host Tim Storey, the CEO of The National Conference of State Legislatures, NCSL. My guest is Cedric King a retired Army Master Sergeant, speaker and author who will be the keynote speaker at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Indianapolis this August. Master Sergeant King joined the Army in 1995 rising to a leadership in the elite Army Rangers. He graduated from several distinguished Army schools and earned a chest full of medals and ribbons. On his third combat deployment in Afghanistan in 2012, Cedric was leading a patrol in a small village when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and suffered horrific injuries, including the loss of both of his legs. With the help of his fellow soldiers and extraordinary skills of the military medical teams, he survived those wounds. Just 21 months after that day, King did what most of us think is unbelievable: He ran the Boston Marathon on prosthetic blades. He hasn’t stopped since. He has competed in marathons and triathlons. He has written books. Talked to audiences all over the country. And he’s talked about his injuries and why that opened him up to the possibilities that we all have in our lives.
Master Sergeant King shared some of his journey and the lessons he’s learned in this podcast. But I am going to invite you to Indianapolis because you are going to want to hear the whole story.
Cedric King is my guest today. And I have to tell you Cedric before I just kick it right to you, I’ve been really looking forward to this. I know a fair amount about your story. I heard you speak in Florida maybe 6 or 7 weeks ago actually. I am really happy, really excited to spend some time with you.
CK: I appreciate you having me out.
TS: As you probably know we are the National Conference of State Legislatures. We work for people who make the laws, people who help the people who make the laws. Write the bills. Think about policy. Think about serving. It is a kind of service, so I think that is something we are going to talk about. I want to tell you right off the top, we have arranged for you to come and talk to our big Summit. We are going to bring 5,000 or 6,000 people together in Indianapolis in August and you are going to be there so I kind of want to give people a little taste today, so they are I’ve got to go and hear this guy and get to know him a little bit.
CK: Yeah. Yeah. It’s going to be great. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Indianapolis, but that will be great man.
TS: Also on our program, there is a fellow named--he played football. Peyton Manning. You’ve probably heard of him. So that’s our plan for Indianapolis. Where are you today by the way? Tell me where you are.
CK: So, I live in Atlanta. I’m here in Atlanta well just north of the city. Actually, Peyton actually came to the hospital. Ah we are going to get into how I got to the hospital, but actually Peyton visited us in the hospital. I’ve got a video of us playing catch. He threw me a football. I wanted to know what a real NFL pass would feel like, and he took it easy on me, but it was one of those times though. I got it on video. I’ve got to send it over to you.
TS: Pretty cool. I mean not a lot of good people in the real world get to play catch with the Peyton Manning. This is about you coming in and I think your story is just really phenomenal. I’m going to get to it in just a second. But hey I want to know just a little bit more about Cedric King. Are you from Georgia? Are you from that part of the world?
CK: No. I’m actually not. Ahm we were blessed enough to live here in Atlanta, but I actually grew up in North Carolina in a real small farming town. Real earth small places about an hour north of Raleigh. Right there on the Virginia North Carolina border. The name of it is called Norlina, North Carolina. It’s in Warren County, Warren County, North Carolina. I will tell you man it’s just one of those places where everybody knows everybody. I went to school with the same kids I went to kindergarten with. I graduated high school. I mean, real small place, you know.
TS: I’m not going to jump ahead too much, but people are going to find out Master Sergeant. 82nd Airborne, is that right? You wind up in Ft. Bragg at some point. So, what made you, so you are in Norlina, and you are like I’m going to join the United States Army. What made you decide to do that?
CK: I had an uncle that was in the 82nd Airborne Division. I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. I mean I always thought that going to college was one of those things that if you went to N.C. State or if you went to Carolina, you went to East Carolina. You now Shaw University or A&T or Central all these places man you had to have really good grades. You wanted to go to Duke. These were all the kids that were like principal’s list ah National Honor Society. These kids were all the kids that were going to college. So, for me, I was like man I’m not smart. I didn’t think that I had it. I didn’t think I was college material you know. And my mom was a single mom at the time. I didn’t want to go and waste any money. She would have had to take out a loan. I wasn’t going to do that to my mom. She worked way too hard to raise me for me to go to school and squander any of the money that she would put together to send me to school. So, I figured if I was going to go to college, I’d go ah and let the Military pay for it. That was the initial plan. You know you get to Ft. Bragg and everything changes. Ft. Bragg was big in North Carolina. But I did not know that Ft. Bragg was such a big deal Army wide. Ft. Bragg is the apex. They’ve got some really, really, high-speed guys at Ft. Bragg. This is the pinnacle of the United States Army. The best go to this place. And I am showing up as an 18-year-old kid at Ft. Bragg in the mid-’90s and don’t know what I’m getting into. You know at Ft. Bragg; you’ve got the best of the best there. The secretary of Defense right now was a colonel back then at Ft. Bragg. You had Stanley McChrystal at Ft. Bragg. You had Petraeus at Ft. Bragg. They were all there when I showed up. I mean you are talking about legends of our current military today were lieutenant colonels and colonels back then.
So, for me to show up as an 18-year-old kid and I’m witnessing history right in front me every single day not knowing that these guys are going to be the people who make policy who drive policy. I’m seeing what right looks like. I’m seeing what leadership looks like. I’m seeing what it looks like to lead men when it’s difficult, when it’s cold, when it’s wet, when you are tired, when you are hungry. I’m getting to witness all of this at 18 years old.
TS: I tell you I feel it. I’ve got a buddy who is in the 1st ID. I feel like I’ve got to give some equal time to these other units right, but I hear what you are saying. But let me just also say for a kid that says oh I’m not too smart, that’s a pretty smart decision what you did.
CK: In North Carolina at in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area in what we call the Piedmont right. This is where our news every day, the news stations that come on every day, they showed something from Ft. Bragg every day. Every day something about Ft. Bragg or Fayetteville was going on. So, when I get a chance to choose to where I want to go, part of me isn’t even thinking about anywhere else. I’m thinking well I’m just going to go back home you know. I’m going to get as close as I can to where I grew up at. Not knowing that Ft. Bragg yeah, it’s close, but it’s basically a world away from where I grew up at. Location-wise, distance-wise it’s 2 hours. But culturally, it’s worlds away from where I grew up at. When I first came to the military, I didn’t come in as an Infantry guy. I came in as an aviation operations specialist. My mom was like, hey we want to get you an office job son. You don’t want to have to work the rest of your life and use your back. And I was like yeah, yeah, you’re right. Let me go and get an office job. And working on an airfield is as office as office gets. You’re a copier machine. Bro, I learned so much about Xerox machines, it was crazy. Printer paper. Printer ink. Figuring out how to fix paper jams is what it came down to. Yeah, I worked around helicopters, but I wasn’t turning no wrenches or nothing like that. I wasn’t flying in helicopters. I was working in an office.
TS: Then obviously September 11 happens. Are you on post at the time or where are you?
CK: So, September 11 rolls around. Man, I’m already on my third duty station by this point. I am at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky at this point. I’m in the 101st Airborne Division which is like the rival division for the 82nd Sector Division rival division right. So, I’m there. I’m stationed there. I had just finished doing morning PT you know so they are on central time. It’s 8:00 in the morning something like that. And somebody runs in the radio announcer is like hey, we got to cut the station for a second. Someone has just run an airplane into a World Trade Center. Now keep in mind, back in the ’90s the World Trade Center had already been attacked once. I didn’t think it was anything bigger than the first one. The first one it was a bomb that went off in the World Trade Center back in the early 90’s. I thought it was something like that. Most of us were alive to even we were all around during the time. Oh, World Trade Center. It’s a bomb, OK. All right it’s probably what happened. They will fix it. They will clean it up. Little do we know that this is going to set off a sequence of events over the next few years that will change everything.
TS: I can’t imagine, you know, what it’s like. I’m sitting here thinking you know grabbing your gear almost because you’re like this is going to get real fast. Are you a ranger at that point?
CK: Not yet. Not yet. I had gone to ranger school, but I didn’t graduate the first time when I went to ranger school. But I had been to ranger school. I had already gone to the ranger battalion, but I had not gone I had not graduated from ranger school which is why I’m at the 101st at that point in time. So, I get to witness exactly how things work. Now for the average person when September 11 hits, for the average American it is horrifying. For the average soldier, it is very horrifying too. We’ve got loved ones that are in New York City. But for the Infantry men, the average infantry man, there is almost not like a and please don’t misunderstand me. We are not excited that this happens on our soil, but we are so excited because now we can go and do something about it. When you train every day to defend your country an opportunity arises to where you can now get in the game. Not to trivialize this, but now we can actually go and do something about it for the first time in our lives. And there is this sense of anticipation that comes out.
When you train every day to go to war when you are working on your marksmanship. When you are out there doing foot patrols. When you are training 15 hours a day for years on end, the moment somebody attacks this country, you are like let me go. And keep in mind, this is happening every day, all day, every year. Right now, someone is training to defend this country and it will happen for eternity.
TS: So, then I mean I’m going to jump ahead here. You get deployed right. I assume multiple deployments.
CK: My first deployment it was into Iraq. This is 2003. Saddam is supposedly having weapons of mass destruction. We get deployed to Kuwait and you are talking about it’s not just one unit. It’s every major infantry division unit that exists. We are all pulled to go into Iraq. The other half of the Army, the other half of the military is poised to go into Afghanistan or already in Afghanistan. So now we are fighting on two different fronts at this point in time. This is where my generation of men and women, this is where we get a chance to make good on our promises to defend this country.
TS: Now we are going to get to the big story here right. There are people listening on this podcast and they probably haven’t heard this. At some point, you are in Afghanistan or Iraq?
CK: There’s three deployments. I saw three tours of combat. One in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. My third deployment was in 2012. As a matter of fact, 11 years ago right now, I’m in Afghanistan.
TS: Your job is to do what? You are a ranger? You’re in country.
CK: So, by this time yeah, I’m an Army Ranger. I am at this point a platoon sergeant. At this point, I’ve already had a number of different jobs in the infantry. I had been a sergeant first class, which is a grade under a first sergeant, and then I deployed again as a platoon sergeant. So, it’s just anybody who knows these roles, you sometimes you operate at a pay grade higher than what you are getting paid. And then there are times when someone comes in and you go revert back to your duty. But this time, I am a sergeant first class, and we are going into villages each day. Sometimes we are going in to do assessments. Sometimes we are going in to protect the village. But oftentimes … we’re just having a presence. It’s a presence patrol. We are walking through villages. We are maintaining order. We are if there is Taliban and they are happy to shoot at us, we are defending ourselves. And it’s every day, every day. You go on a patrol at some point in time, you are going in an active village with live bullets getting shot at you and you have live ammunition to defend yourself shooting back.
This is a really tough saga for our military that summer. We lost a lot of good men in the summer of 2012. And sure enough, the day that we are talking about we were going into this small village probably no bigger than your average mall parking lot. It’s not big at all. We are going in and we are going to find this small little house that has what we got tipped off that there was a two- or three-man operation out of this little hut. And in this hut, there’s supposedly explosives. There is supposedly ammunition. These were the guys that were targeting foot patrols, resupply patrols. They were blowing up vehicles. Shooting at aircraft. They were targeting U.S. Army logistic operations and combat operations. We were going in there not to fight anybody. This was a reconnaissance patrol. This is what to build a case. To be able to level this building and to obviously capture these people.
TS: These are bomb makers in this little house and you are going in to check it out and just real quick, real quick. Cedric what day it was?
CK: It’s probably a Wednesday maybe. July 25, 2012.
TS: Every day you are going out on these patrols and now take it away. Tell what happens next.
CK: We are going to this little town called Azan. Now the thing about it is this place has been. We have gone into this place before. … And every platoon that has gone into this place has been attacked. There’s not been one patrol to go in there that has not had some sort of injury. Men have lost their legs, their eyesight. All types of stuff. Everybody, every platoon has taken some sort of injury or casualty in this little village. So, we are going into it, but we are not going in there to fight. We are just going in there to do a recon and get out of there. We get to this little hut, and it is like we hit the jackpot. It was like everything that we were looking for was in there. Ammunition. Explosive materials. Power sources. Wires. Everything that you would need to make homemade explosives. Obviously, Afghanistan is a farming culture, so fertilizer is used to grow things, but it is also used in bombmaking material. So, we hit the jackpot. We are taking out digital camera. Everything is going according to plan. We are actually ahead of schedule. We are going to get back to the outpost early so that we can get on the telephones early so that we can call home and talk with our families. That was the plan. We’re going to go knock out this mission and then get home before anybody else is done so we can talk home and talk with the wives and talk with the kids and stuff like that. That was a perfect plan. Five or 10 minutes into the operation, we are almost done. As a matter of fact, we are going so good that I made a decision to go outside and let the guys in the outer perimeter know hey we are good to go. Hey, go ahead and pick it up we are getting ready to move back.
Right before I leave the threshold of the door, right before I get to the threshold from the door, I stepped on an IED. Now I’d heard explosions before. I’d been obviously I’ve blown stuff up. But I had never, I’ve never been standing on top of a blast. This is where everything changes at. And you never think that it could happen to you right. You know that danger is always there, but it’s the way that we think. We don’t most people don’t think that today is their day. And it just so happens, I step on this IED. An explosion happens. It’s not like in the movies where you see you know like you hear this mouse click you know where it’s like click. It’s not like that. It’s so well hidden, you’d never even know it’s there. It’s right at the threshold. Whoever put it there knew that this should be the path where somebody walks at and whoever is operating in it knows not to step on certain places. I get blown up. There is instantly a hole in the ground that I’ve fallen into, and I try to stand back up because your natural instincts when you get knocked down is to stand back up. Well, this time I try to stand back up and something is not working.
TS: Yeah, so it didn’t knock you out?
CK: Naw. It knocked me out. There is a concussion. There’s a concussion. And keep in mind I played sports my whole life and I never had a concussion before, so I didn’t know what it was. First time everything starts to your brain gets rattled and things are starting to slowdown incrementally. It feels like everything is like everything is in like slow motion. It felt like maybe for 45 seconds things were in slow motion. But then the brain comes back and figures everything out. I’ve tried to stand back up. I think we’re under attack. I’m not quite sure what had happened. I thought maybe somebody had thrown a grenade or something. But, sure enough, you know, it’s an IED and it’s me. I stepped on it. I’m looking at my body. I’m looking at the ground. There’s blood everywhere. This arm like I could see for the first time, I’m looking through. If you’ve ever been to biology class. If you’ve ever been to anatomy class where you go into the classroom and you see that skeleton. You see like the little skeleton. It’s like hanging from like some. I’m seeing the arm part of it where the two bones are right here. It looked it’s like the radial bone and the ulna bone, I’m like looking at both of them like there is no skin here.
TS: And that’s your right arm.
CK: So, I’m a righthanded shooter. In the military, I’m a righthanded shooter so I’m holding my M4 carbine, I’m holding it. At the point of impact, the blast basically the rifle gets ripped out of part of my hand, but so does part like half of my arm gets like ripped off. And the great thing about it is you can’t even feel most of it because your body has not quite understood what has happened yet. What I could start to feel was the shrapnel. The shrapnel is really hot and it’s like all over my body. It’s like really, really hot. You ever fried anything and the grease pops on you. It was like that, but it was like all over your body though. That was the first real uncomfortable experience.
TS: So obviously now your buddies, your brothers right, they get you man they must like tie up your legs right. And they get you Medevac out of there. Did you pass out at some point?
CK: I didn’t. I remember just about everything. I remember just about everything up until we get to the hospital. We go into this little tent. After that I go into like a coma. But the blast, the helicopter ride and all of that I still remember all of that.
TS: This is just really unbelievable this whole story. Just not even possible. Ten years later and here we are man. And they started to put you back together.
CK: I want to say this before we go any further. It is by the grace of God that I am talking to you right now. Nobody I knew had made it after stepping on an IED and losing both legs. Nobody I knew had made it this far. And at the time, I was certain that if this is my moment I’m probably about to check out, I was optimistic, but I understand that this was something that could potentially happen. And by the grace of God, I’m talking to you right now. I had two hand grenades on my body and neither one of them detonated. Two. Two. Two fragmentation grenades. If you know anything about grenades, the only thing that is stopping them from exploding is a small little pin. A small little pin no bigger than a safety pin is holding this whole thing together and I had two of them on. Neither one of them detonated. That’s by the grace of God. It’s a miracle. I give God the glory every day for having me be here.
TS: And also, you know there’s the people around you. I assume there’s a medic that gets over there quick and starts you know we got to tie off this bleeding and all this business and it truly is. I appreciate you saying that cause look man here you are.
CK: Erin Teller. Erin Teller is his name. He ran over to me. He ran over to me and got me on the helicopter in my platoon. We had trained for this for months man. We always trained that this injury would happen to someone else. Not knowing that it would happen to me. So, I just want to always give thanks to God and give thanks to the men that helped me be here today.
TS: I’m fascinated that you were actually awake during all of this. This is crazy to me. But anyways, you get back and I guess that get you to Germany or something and maybe back to the U.S. at some point. Is there some point where you are like they say like hey dude you’re not going to walk. What happens when you start to get your head around what happened?
CK: My wife and my mom were actually at the hospital when I came out of the coma. This is about 8 days later. It’s now like August 2nd. A week has passed, and my wife and my mom are there as I wake up. And my wife is explaining to me what had happened, but I don’t know the full details of the legs, the whole legs thing because the last memory I had there was blood everywhere and I had seen like my boots that were basically they looked like you had put my boots like in a blender or something like that. That’s the last thing that I remember. I don’t remember them actually being amputated till my wife explains to me the extent of what had happened. My outlook on life at this point was super low man.
TS: That’s what I’m asking what I’m getting at because this is the turnaround point. At some point is the turnaround. So, yeah, how did you feel when you got your head around it?
CK: It was the lowest moment of my life. I could not I could not even imagine things then this painful. Not just physically painful, but more emotionally painful. I had, you know, nurses bringing me powerful painkillers. But when you sit there, and you think about the outlook of your life and if things could get better. So many things. Why did this have to happen to me? I’ve thought that if I did good, good would happen to me. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to people that do good. I didn’t hurt anybody. I was trying to live my life right. I don’t deserve this. I don’t feel like I deserve this. This seems like a punishment. And what did I do to deserve this? There’s a lot of soul searching. A lot of lonely nights. A lot of tears man. Months and months of just not having any answers. And for a lot of people that moment is enough to do you in. Or to be angry at God or to be angry at the situation. Or to be angry at the people that did this to you. But this was the most valuable moment of my life. I’ll tell you why. I was not being punished. It wasn’t a punishment. It was actually a gift. You say well how in the world could you say that. This is the lowest moment of your life. How could you look at it as a gift? This is a punishment. At the least it was something that you regret happening right. No. It was the very opposite. It was the very opposite. It took me awhile to get this perspective. And I’m going to tell you this. Understanding it now is this. If you are going to have any power in life, it’s not going to come from the outside. It’s not going to come from material wealth. It’s going to come from the inside. If you think about it, every single superhero that you know of, every single one of them man. Batman. Superman. Hulk. All of these guys. They had some sort of superpower, but that superpower came out of some kind of super problem. Every single one of them. Superman’s entire planet blew up. Batman saw his mom and dad get blown away right in front of him as a 10-year-old. Hulk. The laboratory exploded. And I think that this is a way so that all of us can understand that no matter what challenge you are facing, the challenges do not come to take something from you. The challenges come to give you something. Yes. Yes. The laboratory exploded. Spiderman got bit by a radioactive spider. Whatever it takes to be these problems they endow power. Don’t think for one second that the diagnosis that the house burning down, that the bankruptcy, that the divorce, that the kid that can’t get on the right path. Whatever it may be, don’t think for a second that this is something that has come to deplete you. This is actually something that has come to give you power that you currently do not have.
TS: I was sitting here thinking about the fact Cedric you are talking about Batman and Superman I love it. To hear your life is a real live superhero man and you are not the only one. When did you figure out like OK, I can’t just wallow in this deal.
CK: So, in North Carolina, I mean as you know, it’s the Bible belt, but I’ve always been raised in church. So that is the foundation alright. Now if you are in a place and you are listening to this and maybe you weren’t raised in a church and say well, I don’t know how that all works. But for me, a lot of my foundation was from the church. And there are numerous stories in the Bible where people in the Bible overcame so many things. One of which that stood out at that point was a guy named Job. There is a whole book in the Bible that has a young man named Job that had everything taken away from him. Everything. Everything taken away from him. His loved ones. His livelihood. Even his health depleted, but this man hung in there. And it was almost it was one of those things where he even questioned God. And Lord knows, I did, too. But it came around to where I was sitting there one day and a quote pops up and it said something like with every dose of adversity, there is also an equal dose of blessing. Now the big thing about it is your job isn’t to sit around and wait on when the blessing is going to show up. Your job at this moment is to continue to be the best version of yourself that you can be. The blessing will show up. Your job isn’t to sit around and wait for it to pop up. Your job is to be the best person you can be until the blessing shows up. It will happen. It will happen. There’s lows and there’s highs in life. There’s hills and valleys in nature. There’s nighttime. There’s daytime. There is winter. There is summer. There’s tough times and there’s going to be good times. Your job isn’t to sit around and wait for when the good time is going to show up. No. Your job is to continue to be good until the good shows up. And when the good does show up, it has to. It has to by the law of nature, it has to be the equivalent or better than the low that just occurred.
TS: Yeah, and some might say look man Job you’re right if you know the story of Job, the Book of Job. It doesn’t get as bad right. But you are pretty like, you’re a pretty Job like situation there right. It looks like it’s over. All your dreams of what you were going to do and everything so that’s the moment where you pull through and you think okay. This blessing here. When is that blessing going to come around.
CK: But even with that though, it still automatically is not getting better immediately right. Just because I have this newfound insight. Just because I have this new quote, it did not automatically make things easier the next day. It was just as hard as the day before, but what had changed is my outlook. And sometimes, sometimes if you could just have your outlook changed just by 1%, it can help you make it through a tough time. It’s like if your gas tank is on E and the motor won’t crank. You don’t need a whole full tank, but just a couple drops of gas can get you to the gas station. This is where I was. I just needed a little bit, 1% just to get me to the gas station. And that helped me get through it.
Also, my family and also the focus that the military put inside of me. Those three things: faith, focus, family. Those three things right there can you revolutionize your life.
TS: But I know, I know enough about your story. I heard you tell this that ah there is a lot of work that goes on now, too. So, we’re going to get to the point here. We are coming up on the end of our time. We spent some time and I kind of love it because we are going to leave a little cliffhanger here. This is why people got to come to see this hear how this story ends in Indianapolis, right. We didn’t plan that, Cedric, but it’s working out pretty good. And this whole point that is then you come back. Not just come back, but man you were reborn into this new version of yourself after this blessing of this IED in this hut and nowhere Afghanistan. And so now, again I’m going to leave it. I’m not going to tell people what happens cause this your story after this right. But you worked right. You believe, you think and then it’s not like it’s handed to you, you’re just thinking like OK I’m going to be okay. Then it gets real.
CK: It’s a lot of work that goes into it. I don’t want to spoil it either. I’m notorious for telling the end of the movie, but I will just say in my life so many things have happened to where now that I look back at me losing those legs. The things that I will be sharing with you in Indianapolis. I can just tell you this losing my legs was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me. That sound crazy right.
I’m in the airport the other day and it takes me longer to get to baggage claim than pretty much anybody on the airplane. It takes me longer to do things and I work way harder. I was at the VA; I was at the VA the other day and I will tell you this. When people see that you are going through something that’s difficult, I will tell you man it’s inspiring for people. I did the Boston Marathon. This is so crazy right. So, the Boston Marathon Monday.
TS: You did the Boston Marathon on Monday? We’re talking on Friday.
CK: This is a classic example of having a different mental perspective. I did the Boston Marathon this past Monday, four ago. I used a handcycle. Normally I would run it. Normally I would run it on my running legs, but this particular time I’m actually on the handcycle. A handcycle is no different than a bicycle. You need the chain. You need a chain.
TS: Guess what?
CK: At mile 17, the chain pops off. I am in the middle of a rainstorm. In the middle of a rainstorm and the chain pops off. There’s people everywhere. In Boston, if you are listening to this from Boston, you all are a different breed of people. You are the only people I know that come out and support people in rainstorms. But people are seeing me struggle going up this hill and they see that there’s a chain that pops off. Now I’m thinking in my mind, okay. This is a small setback. No big deal. I’ll fix the chain. Well, here’s the problem. When you are on the side of a hill, and you are trying to fix a chain only one or two things are going to happen. You can fix the chain but you’re going to be rolling off the hill.
One of the greatest moments in my life was to witness people seeing me struggle run out of the crowd. Come over to help me out and to see me start again. You would have thought that I just scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl. The crowd went wild and the thing about it is it lets me see that people are not so concerned about what happens when things go wrong. They are so inspired by what you do after things go wrong. What are you doing?Everybody has stuff go wrong, but what are you going to do after days go wrong? That is what changes people.
TS: We talk about that a lot in our world of you know. It happens in all workplaces, and you get together people you are going to have setbacks right. You’re going to have it’s going to seem like man we can’t do it. This is it. This is the end. And what you find is there’s a lot of people standing by that are going to come over and give you a hand.
CK: I will say this. They don’t. People will come by and help, but they want to see you working hard for it. Man, you got to give it up first. You have to get out there and bust your hump and people will come. But they you’ve got to see you working first. I’m not sure if you can remember. Have you ever drove a five speed?
TS: Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. Of course.
CK: There used to be this thing where if you owned a 5 speed, you could and your motor was messing up, you could do something called pop the clutch. But to pop your clutch, you had to get, you had to push the car or get it on a downhill and then you hit the clutch and you could start the engine up. Well, the car has got to be moving before you can do that. The car has got to be moving before the engine works. The car has got to be moving especially on a 5 speed. That’s what it is in life as well. You gotta be moving. You gotta be moving. If you are moving, then things can happen. You can’t just sit there and let it happen. You gotta be moving man.
TS: So many lessons here Cedric. But one of them is like you know people could have picked you up and carried you down to the finish line right. They could have carried you to the top of the hill and pushed you down the hill. So, it is about like what are you going to bring to it. That mindset. And knowing them and you get some low points, but that’s when you got to figure out okay how do I fix the chain? Who is going to help me here right? This is an unbelievable story. I mean you really. Surely, they are making a movie about your story. Somebody has got to be making.
CK: We are working on it. We are working on it. I will say that.
TS: That’s good. That’s fine man. I want to see Cedric King starring Cedric King. That’s what I want to see. I think you could handle it because I don’t think there’s much you can’t handle. I’m going to bring it to a close and I love it. You know we got we’ve told life half of the story. And we can’t wait to see you.
What is your mission now? Let’s wrap up with that. What is your mission now?
CK: Ah I think my mission now is to help people understand that it’s not just Cedric. It’s each one of us. It’s each one of us. My mission is also to glorify God Almighty. Every day that I wake up, it’s a gift many so I know that I’m not even supposed to be here. So, every single day that I can, I’m going to try and do my best to get God the best gas mileage that he can out of what he gave me left man.
TS: Can’t wait to meet you in person. It’s going to be a real honor for me and the people who can be there. And thank you for sharing your story today. We really appreciate you brother.
CK: Alright. So, I’ll see you. They call it nap town. I will see you in nap town in August though right.
TS: I’ve been talking with Cedric King, a retired Army master sergeant, speaker, and author who will be a keynote speaker at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Indianapolis in August. Thank you for joining me and Cedric on this episode of “Legislatures: The Inside Storey” brought to you by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Ed: You can check out all the podcasts from the National Conference of State Legislatures by searching for NCSL podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. Tim Storey, NCSL’s CEO hosts “Legislatures:The Inside Storey” where he focuses on leadership and legislatures. The “Our American States” podcast dives into some of the most challenging public policy issues facing legislators. On “Across the Aisle” host Kelley Griffin tells stories of bipartisanship. Also check out our special series “Building Democracy” on the history of legislatures.