Introducing SPORTS ‘N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year: Mark Braun
Editor’s Note: Our friends at SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine are sharing a series of articles with Wheel:Life to help you discover and enjoy wheelchair sports as well as active, healthy lifestyles! We’ll be posting the highlights with a link to the full story below.
Sports ‘N Spokes’ Best of the Best!
2014 SPORTS ‘N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year Mark Braun excels on the track, but his many contributions to society make this young star shine.
It all started at a bank. Mark Braun sat with his mom on the concrete steps in a tourist-laden neighborhood of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and told him this was a miraculous place. It’s where Mark got a second chance. His birth mother left him in a trashcan in the bank’s back alley when she could no longer care for him.
Fortunately, the can amplified Mark’s cries and a police officer was able to rescue him and take him to the hospital. In time, he landed in an orphanage where his new family from the U.S. would eventually adopt him.
“He’s a child that we could see even from the first moment that we met him that he was inspirational, determined,” says Mark’s mom, Claire. “You know, as you look at each thing he accomplishes and each thing he participates in, he grows. And you know, as a parent when you look at a child … you want your children to have the best chance for a future, and in Mark’s case that certainly was true right from the beginning.”
Born with spina bifida, Mark spent the first five years of his life crawling around on his hands. It’s that determination that’s excelled him to where he is today.
His accomplishments in the last year — 2014 national wheelchair basketball champion, gold and silver medalist at the 2014 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Junior Games on Team USA, first place in his class for every individual track event entered at the 2014 National Junior Disability Championships, and most recently, the SPORTS ‘N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year — just scratch the surface of all he’s done throughout his career.
This includes being a three-time national wheelchair basketball champion, wheelchair basketball world gold medalist, one of six pioneer athletes to participate in high school track and field in Minnesota’s first wheelchair division and IWAS World Junior Games competitor on Team USA two years running.
Mark’s athletic career littered with accomplishments began at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley, Minn., when he was just 7 years old. He was exposed to a wide variety of wheelchair sports, including floor hockey, soccer, softball, sled hockey, downhill skiing, archery and the two he shines in — basketball and track and field.
“I thought wheelchair basketball was going to be my most passionate sport and I was going to really love it … I was like, ‘You know, I’m not really liking wheelchair basketball as a main passionate sport,’” Mark says. “So, I switched over to track and field and I really loved it — my times were getting better, I was improving, getting a lot faster.”
Find out how more on how Mark Braun continues his success by reading the full story here.
About S’NS Magazine
SPORTS ‘N SPOKES is a bimonthly publication produced by the Paralyzed Veterans of America. S’NS reports on competitive sports and recreation for wheelchair users. Since 1975, S’NS has been a leader in wheelchair sports coverage and currently goes to more than 43 countries worldwide. Our readers come from all walks of life all having one thing in common: determination! SPORTS ‘N SPOKES is committed to providing a voice for the wheelchair sporting and recreation community. Visit www.sportsnspokes.com to view the latest issue.