Biography

Mark was born in Georgia and lived his formative years in South Carolina, Michigan, and Illinois. During his days in Michigan, he spent many summer hours fishing, boating, turtle hunting, playing little league, and working on a fruit and vegetable farm. With the money made from working on a farm, Mark and his brother David built a boat, a go-cart, a black and white photography lab which was set up in a bathroom, and many estes rockets. Winter months consisted of ice skating miles of Lake Erie shore line, muskrat trapping, pheasant and rabbit hunting, go-carting on the ice, and grueling hours swimming on a swim team. Michigan was truly a great place for a young boy to grow strong and learn the disciplines needed for life. In Illinois, Mark began high school where he started competing in gymnastics. By Senior year, Mark had made it to the Illinois State Meet in Floor Exercise. Unfortunately, during his routine, he over-rotated a double back flip and skid across the floor, thus ending his chance for placing in the state competition. Scouts from Southern Illinois University, SIU, saw Mark and recruited him as their floor exercise specialist. After a semester of training, the SIU gymnastics team traveled to a gymnastics camp in Florida to practice and meet with other gymnasts from around the country. This is where Mark broke his neck and began the road to learning how to live as a quadriplegic.

After Mark was stabilized, he was sent to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where he spent 6 months learning the medical care required to live a healthy life as a quadriplegic. This information was quickly put to the test because Mark enrolled at SIU just 9 months after breaking his neck. After the first two semesters, Mark's dad was transferred to San Antonio and Mark enrolled at Texas A&M University where he received a Bachelor and Masters degree in computer science. During Mark's Master degree program, he met several PHD students that were starting a lab specializing in system modeling tools and artificial intelligence. They invited Mark to join the lab where he was employed for fourteen years. During this time, Mark bought a house, started several bands in which he played harmonica, and also wrote the software for a sip-&-puff wheel chair controller that he is currently using. Eventually the lab at Texas A&M was disbanded to start a company that now employs more than 70 people in various parts of the country. Mark has participated in several studio recording projects one of which produced a CD for his band The Reckless Panhandlers, has written software for a new wheelchair controller, and travels to Jamaica or St Croix for vacations.