"The beginning of your story does not determine the person you will become."
Mark grew up in a working class family in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mark's mother, Myra, had him at 14 years old. Myra and his adopted father, Mark Sr., worked hard to make ends meet. From his parents, Mark learned grit, hard work, and empathy that would carry him through life.
After high school, Mark went to University of South Florida (USF) to pursue his dream of playing division one football, but was cut at football tryouts. Rather than giving up, he assessed his weaknesses, changed his workout routine, and spent the next year dedicating himself to training. The following year he competed against 80 other athletes in walk on tryouts, and after two rounds of cuts, Mark was invited to join the USF Bulls Football team.
A day after graduating with a Bachelors in Communications, Mark started his own business and opened a gym called One More Rep. After several years he merged with another gym to create CrossFit Sabal Park. As a fitness business owner, he continued to train as an athlete and was ranked amongst the top 1% fittest CrossFit athletes in the world five years in a row. He remains one of the top 5 CrossFit athletes in Florida.
As a world class athlete and small business owner, Mark still felt that he could do more. The opportunity came a year later when he met one of his client’s son, Andrew, who has down syndrome. When Andrew met Mark he was overweight, overly shy, afraid of crowds, and his issues with balance and coordination made him wary of falling. Mark offered to train him for free. Within a month, Andrew was riding a bike, joining fitness group classes, and lost over 20 pounds.
The excitement Mark felt in witnessing Andrew’s transformation inspired Mark to pursue his passion --- helping persons with disabilities. In an effort to further serve the community, Mark started and lead several Special Olympics Powerlifting and Track teams. Over the past two years Mark has coached five athletes to win state championships
In 2018, Mark founded a nonprofit, Specially Fit, which extends fitness training beyond Special Olympic athletes into schools across Central Florida. Today, Specially Fit is in over nine schools. Mark works with eight staffers and 20 volunteers to train over 400 students with disabilities every week.
Mark has been recognized by channel Fox 13 with a Hometown Hero Award, nominated as Tampa Bay’s 40 under 40, and is a participant in 2019 Leadership Brandon. He lives in Riverview, Florida.