Up to this point I’ve been describing the types of issues and people that this blog is dedicated to, today I would like to introduce you to one of those people. His name is Mark Zupan.
Mark is someone that I have admired for several years now. I first became aware when I saw the 2005 documentary Murderball (the movie is available on Vimeo and I have posted it below however I’m not sure of the copyright situation with the post. It is also important to realize that this movie is rated R). The movie itself tells the story of the 2004 US Paralympic wheelchair rugby team as they competed at the Athens Paralympic Games. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking to watch an honest portrayal of the disabled. All of the people featured in the film became role models to me for the simple fact that not a single one of them allowed their disabilities to define them. I was particularly drawn to Mark for reasons I really can’t explain. Something about the brash way he approached life caught my attention. Make no mistake Zupan is no angel, some might even consider him offensive, but I think he still a worthwhile role model.
Shortly after Murderball was released he published an autobiography called GIMP . The book revealed the story of his journey through life beginning at 18 years old with a series of bad decisions and bad luck that left him a quadriplegic. Zupan was a college soccer star and after a night of celebrating he passed out in the back of a friend’s pickup. Not realizing he was there, Zupan’s friend got in the truck and attempted to drive home drunk. There was an accident and Zupan was thrown from the truck bed. Thirteen and a half hours later he was rescued from a canal and his life was changed forever. After many years of struggles he became one of the top players on the US National Team
I don’t want to give too much of the story away because I encourage you to watch the movie and read the book. However, it should suffice to say it takes a lot of persistence and bravery to go from being in the wrong place at the wrong to being considered one of the nation’s best athletes.