rehabilitation center in Philadelphia. They told his family he’d be there for a month.
Two weeks later, he walked out on his own two feet.
“He recovered at a rate that had everyone’s jaw drop,” Tanya says.
That was three years ago. Today, speech remains difficult for Mark. Exercise, however, is not. Since being cleared to resume working out a year ago, he’s been back at the gym in Newark, Delaware, where he gained the level of physical fitness that doctors say saved his life. The gym is owned by Devon and Samantha Mitchell, who helped him train prior to his cardiac arrest and who are now helping him regain as much physical fitness as possible.
“I work out five days a week right now,” Mark says, pushing each word out carefully. “The doctors encouraged it.”
Mark also has returned to his job as chief financial officer at a charter school in Philadelphia. He even drives himself each day. “It makes me feel normal,” he shares. And though Mark’s recovery pushed back their initial wedding date, the couple was finally able to say their vows on July 14, 2021 – the three-year anniversary of when they met.
“It was a long time coming,” Mark adds.
Mark met his wife at Devon’s gym. Over the years, the two couples have become close.
Devon says he was inspired by Mark’s commitment to fitness from day one. Mark even pushed Devon to join him in competitions, resulting in the pair qualifying to represent Team USA at the Duathlon World Championship in Spain just a few months before Mark’s ill-fated half Ironman. So when Devon and Samantha learned their efforts contributed to Mark’s ability to recover, it “warmed my heart,” Devon shares. “For us, it validates why we do what we do at this gym. It reaffirms for me that your health is priority No. 1.”
Mark’s road to recovery hasn’t been entirely smooth.
Soon after he returned to the gym, the alarm on his defibrillator went off while he was walking on a treadmill. He felt pain in his