Coach Mark Was My Constant

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 01, 2021 # Reeve Run & Roll, Team Reeve, Coach Mark

In 2005, I, along with two colleagues and a board member, created Team Reeve. We started small and it grew rapidly. The idea was simple, put actions behind our words and raise money for research.

Before my injury, I had been an avid runner and long-distance cyclist. However, when I sustained my spinal cord injury, sports, as I knew them, were gone, and as life got busier with marriage, kids and work, I honestly did not think I would be able to ever do them again.

After Christopher passed away, I decided it was time to fundraise on behalf of the Foundation, so I signed up to hand cycle the New York City Marathon. Sunrise Medical (Reeve Run & Roll sponsor) thankfully donated my handcycle. After a few months of testing it out with my husband and children, I was ready to start training. That’s when Coach Mark came in.

I was a marathon novice when I first met Coach Mark. He helped me plan and train for NYC and provided endless support to get me to the finish line. Mark would call me at least once a week to see how my training was going, ensuring I was staying on top of my nutrition and rest. He taught me strategy, when to push, and when to regroup energy. If I had a question or started panicking about the race, he was there. Mark was my constant.

Finally, race day came, and Mark made sure I had everything I needed. He even drove my bike into Manhattan for the race one year. He saw me off at 4 AM with the other hand cyclists. He made sure I had my bagel smeared with peanut butter to munch on the Verrazano Bridge before the start. Mark was everywhere throughout the course. He even bribed a NYPD officer to allow him to be in the middle of the road as I passed the NYC Zoo entering Central Park. He was hanging off a lamp post so I wouldn’t miss him as I neared the finish line. Mark will never know how much that meant to me and still does to this day. He was my lone supporter on the course, and he was there with encouragement

Mark has always been the heart of Team Reeve. He has helped nearly 1,000 of us cross finish lines and supported our paralysis community fervently. Little did we know he would become one of the community members we would serve. Mark was diagnosed with ALS this past year. Paralysis doesn’t discriminate. Mark worked for our team for 16 years only to end up with a disease that leads to paralysis. The irony of Mark’s new normal doesn’t escape either of us, and that is why I have joined Team Coach Mark for the Reeve Run & Roll. Mark epitomizes the fact that you never know who may become paralyzed. And that very reason is why the Reeve Foundation exists. Now, I am here for Mark in ways I never thought I would be.

Mark has dedicated so much time, love, and energy to ensuring Team Reeve is successful. And in turn, his dedication has led to millions of dollars raised to help deliver effective treatments to our community. That is why I have joined his team. It is now our turn to help Mark. To know Mark is to love him, and this is my small way to make a difference. I hope you will join me and honor all Mark has done with a donation, no matter how big or small.

“See you at the finish line.”

--Bernadette, Director of Information and Resource and Services, Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center

To donate to the Reeve Run & Roll in honor of Coach Mark, please visit his team page at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.