Hi, My name is Mark and I am a member of the Fitness team here at Aspire.

For the past 20 years after becoming an amputee I have tried to inspire other people to lead an active life beyond disability and to do this I have undertaking a physical challenge every year for a charity. To date £260,000 has been raised for various charities.

I believed that we can all achieve more than what we think we are capable of doing and so to test this theory every challenge has become more difficult than the last. Testing your physical and mental abilities is a true test of your character and builds confidence in every aspect of life.

Unfortunately, in 2018 I was put to test again after being diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome. I lost all use of my legs but thankfully I regained this post surgery but was left with partial drop foot on my one remaining good leg. It has taken a year to rehabilitate and it was during my rehabilitation I came up with the idea of walking a long distance as it seemed to be the only thing I could do at this point and so Challenge America was invented.

This challenge is a 12,000 mile trek around the circumference of America by me. I will be doing this solo and is unassisted or supported in any way other than being tracked by satellite for a few reasons.

Throughout the challenge. I will be living in a tent completely reliant on myself unless I’m offered a bed for the night and believe me I will accept it! I will also be pulling a pulk which is a sledge on wheels, this will carry all of my equipment in order to be self sufficient throughout. This is purely so I don’t carry any weight on my back and will be using my hips instead.

The objectives of the challenge is to complete the whole 12,000 miles around the circumference of America obviously! and as the first amputee to do so as it has never been done before by anyone. There are 883 Cities and Towns to travel through in 12 months. This means that I need to walk 33 miles per day to achieve it in one year. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted but I am sure I will be meeting nice people along the way and who knows I might be the next Forrest Gump.

I also hope to continue to encourage others people to enjoy an active life as always and show that you can still achieve things albeit walking and ultimately to raise funds for charity. If I had to, I would do it in a wheelchair too.

Arctic ONE is the charity of my own choice for this challenge and to whom I am an ambassador for. They do amazing work organising events and provide grants to athletes who are up and coming in today’s competitive world of sport. Everyone at Arctic One is also a volunteer! I am hoping to raise £60,000 on this challenge to enable Arctic One to widen it’s support and potentially offer more events and grants.

As part of the above I also hope that enough funds are raised to enable another person to benefit from a sport prosthetic limb which has proven twice already to change people’s lives beyond their dreams. One recipient is now going to Tokyo Paralympic Games this year. I will be watching out for Hannah Moore and shouting at the TV as I go around.

I love working here as part of the Aspire team that delivers and encourages rehabilitation and fitness. It has enabled me to help others through my own experience and I hope to return after this challenge.

I would like to thank Dorset Orthopaedic who sponsor my limb and SAFO and everyone who has agreed to support this challenge. I do not receive anything from this personally other than the satisfaction of completing what will be my hardest challenge yet. My motto is ”Never give up and never give in”.

Thanks for reading #StriveForBetter

Best wishes