Oprah's Big Give Contestants
Watch Carlana's video bio
Today, Carlana is trying to dispel the myth that people struck by tragedy are victims forever. She scuba dives, sky dives and is working on getting her pilot's license. "Over the years, it's been a journey," she says. "Obstacles and challenges can bring meaning and purpose into our lives." While Carlana's career has spanned from local TV news to writing her own memoir, she says one of her current passions is her nonprofit organization, The Courage Community, which serves as an online networking community for injured Iraq war veterans. "If I can use my experience to help someone else work through their pain a little more quickly, then it's all been worth it," she says.
Carlana graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Slavic languages. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and their two cats, Emmy and Sammy.
"I believe that my wheelchair is less of a restraint and more of a force in my life," Carlana says. " Oprah's Big Give was an opportunity to really put that to the test. I wanted to see how well I've learned from my experiences in the face of adversity and utilize that to empower other people."
Giving Back Moment: There was this woman who came up to hug me in the library when I lived in Miami. She was disheveled, dirty and she was crying. She said that she had watched me on the news. She was a recovering heroin addict and said that they talked about how I had overcome adversity in their group. You don't even know when people are watching you. It showed me that I really needed to be responsible with what I did. It was extremely rewarding, even though I didn't give back to her on her purpose.
Type of Music/Artist: Steely Dan
Dessert: Crème brûlée
Time of Day: The evening with my husband or waking up to him in the morning
Indulgence: Fine dining with a nice Cabernet
Memory: My wedding day
Snack: Cream cheese frosting
Weekend Activity: Going flying with my husband and spending valuable time with family and friends
Meet the host and judges!