Mark retired from the Navy after serving as a Senior Chief for 21 years. After retiring from the Navy, Mark went on to work as a postal carrier delivering mail on foot. Mark’s Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2007 at the age of 49 was a shock to the avid runner. There were no fitness resources dedicated to the Parkinson’s community at that time. For someone who thrived on being active, this was a real challenge – so Mark began creating them.
In 2011, he started Parkinson’s Albany, which became Hope Soars. Mark and his wife Ann introduced a Parkinson’s Walk and 5k, later adding a gala. Each event focused on raising awareness for the Parkinson’s community, education on living the best life with Parkinson’s, and funding research. The events have brought local, state, and nationally elected officials and encouraged their support of local and federal funding for Parkinson’s.
Mark and Hope Soars have worked closely with numerous Parkinson’s foundations. In fact, in 2013, Mark ran the NY City Marathon as a member of Team Fox, raising money and awareness for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Mark reached out to doctors, researchers, and fitness experts throughout the country as he worked to discover programs that encouraged fitness specifically tailored for Parkinson’s patients. Together with the YMCA, Mark brought Pedaling for Parkinson’s, a spin-type class designed for Parkinson’s patients to all 8 Capital District YMCAs. He worked with local yoga instructors to provide a yoga class, Yoga for PD, at the Honest Weight Co-op. Mark was instrumental in bringing the boxing program Fighting Parkinson’s to Schott’s Gym. Hope Soars also funded a local dance instruction program. All these exercise programs have 2 goals – inclusion for Parkinson’s patients and a positive message. Today, the Capital District has a robust selection of Parkinson’s friendly activities.
Mark enjoys exercising every day and spending time with his wife, Ann. He finds great strength in his faith and the support of his family.