My Why: ​Mark Segal

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on November 04, 2021 # Team Reeve

Selfie of Mark and Heather wearing bike helmets with a lake behind themMark Segal and his wife, Heather are riding 3,100 miles across the USA from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL, as a part of Team Reeve All-Stars. Team Reeve All-Stars is a fundraising arm of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. It gives individuals anywhere the ability to turn their passion into a fundraiser for spinal cord injury research. All-Stars have hosted bake sales, dedicated their birthday or Bar/Bat Mitzvah, participated in Tough Mudders, put on 5K races, and so much more. The possibilities are endless to host a fundraiser and become a Team Reeve All-Star.

Mark Segal

What inspired you to join Team Reeve?

Mark smiling on his bike and wearing a Team Reeve jersey and helmetI have been moved by two individuals' strength of character to live with paralysis. I thought of them daily for inspiration as I cycled up mountains, through hot deserts and across the country. One is my friend Lenny. We worked and lived together at summer camp back in 1982, and then worked in student travel in the late '80s and early '90s. He had an aortic dissection 5 years ago and, as a result, is paralyzed waist down. The other is our family friend Ernie who is 19 years old. He suffered a freak accident in his first week of college just over a year ago while in the ocean and broke his C6 vertebrae, and is paralyzed from the upper chest down.

I wanted to help the search for an actual cure for spinal cord injury and help the quality of life of all those who suffer from paralysis.

What has been the hardest challenge that you have overcome?

It's hard to pick just one, but I would say early on the heat crossing the Yuma Desert section of the Sonoran Desert on the California and Arizona border. It reached 108 degrees on a day we rode 95 miles, and I became dehydrated, needing a full day of rest and home concocted oral rehydration. Living in the northeast, we were able to train for distance, climbing, and time in the saddle but not that heat. Since that was over early on and then resolved, the other major challenge was the significant time sitting on a bike seat and the skin issues that I developed as a result. This was a near-constant hurdle, and it was not lost on me how pressure sores are a major medical issue for those with spinal cord injuries.

Mark and Heather smiling together on the beachTell us about the most memorable moment on the ride?

It's impossible to pick a single moment, so I'd say the collection of random strangers who showered us with kindness, concern and prayer. This ranged from Krystal and Jake, a couple who drove a few hours out of their way this past week to help Heather, to Bruno, a water angel where we met on day 1. However, the prayer part was the most surprising part of my journey.

Prior to leaving home, I had considered the physical and mental challenges, including heat and saddle sores, bike issues that could arise, and even Heather's and my relationship, but I gave no thought to the spiritual aspect and was deeply moved by those who prayed for our well-being.

What are you looking forward to on the day you complete your cross-country bike ride?

FaceTiming with our 3 kids ages 25, 23 and 20 and flying to be with them the next day. That and not riding for a while!

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