Bonnel Blog by Tom Bonnel


Being a hero, even an accidental one, doesn’t mean you are not afraid or don’t have questions or do not doubt, it means you do it anyway.

Thanks, Steph, for dragging my fat ass along for the ride.

Be well, Be safe, and stay

p.s. Kudos to Margaret for keeping the homefires banked.

Guest Post by Scott Bondurant

It’s awfully hard to put experiencing the Challenge into words, although a large number of folks have done a fantastic job doing just that on the blog site.

I’m humbled to have been able to participate in something as transcendant as the Challenge.  Spending a day riding through the constant rain & headwinds of tropical storm Debbie, as well as climbing unexpected & unforgiving hills (Himalayan mountains for Steph) would normally be a pretty nasty ordeal.  Instead, yesterday was a breeze.  When riding with Steph, there is an empowering awareness that whatever nature might throw at us today, is nothing compared to what life has thrown at Steph.

It’s also amazing how the Challenge instantly bonds those involved — I’ll always feel a kinship with Mead, Greg & Don, along with Lincoln, Maria, Alex and a little less directly with everyone that has participated along the way.

What happened to Mark and how he has responded has a surreal and enlivening feel to it.  Perhaps it is because we encounter so few truly transcendent experiences in our lives.

Steph—I’m grateful to be your friend and indebted for the opportunity to have shared part of your journey by participating in the Challenge.

You ‘da man,


Miami University: “Alumni Profile: Mark Stephan ’80”

Written by Donna Boen ’83 MTSC ’96, Miamian Editor

The morning of April 15, Mark Stephan ’80 strapped on his helmet, settled into his three-wheel recumbent bike, and began pedaling 3,129 miles from San Diego, Calif., to St. Augustine, Fla.

Such a trek would be difficult for all but the hardiest among us. For Stephan, who is cycling eight hours a day, this is a herculean effort as he is a quadriplegic who needs a full-time caregiver to accomplish life’s simplest tasks. And Stephan never settles for simple.






Chicago Tribune: “A quadriplegic’s moving story”

By John P. Huston, Chicago Tribune reporter
June 6, 2012

Pedaling from coast to coast was always a dream for Mark Stephan, and he wasn’t going to let anything block his route — not even the 2007 accident that left him a quadriplegic.

Defying the odds, and after punishing rehabilitation, he has recovered some movement and feeling in his limbs — enough to turn the wheels of a recumbent tricycle. In April, the 53-year-old Winnetka man began pedaling in San Diego with the objective of cycling 3,129 miles east to Jacksonville, Fla., by the end of June.




Our Stephan Challenge Texan Adventure by Eric Johnson

This Memorial Day weekend was one to remember- joining Mark Stephan for his trek across the country to benefit RIC was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Working at RIC you see and hear stories of tremendous perseverance and determination every day. This experience, this individual: Mark Stephan, a man with a C2-C3 Spinal Cord Injury who was told he’d never walk again affirmed the notion that mind over matter, hope over despair, “I can” over “I can’t” can empower ability and defy the odds of modern science.

We rode with Mark on a steamy Texas day that reached 106 degrees by 1pm. We started the day off early to what  was assumed to be a fairly flat breezy day across the Texas plains which is exactly what the morning brought, I never knew Texas was so green and beautiful. Following lunch we started to ride into an empty open road Texas State Park, and this is where the day got long and Mark’s inspiration grew. The park was filled rolling hills that consisted of fast downhill sprints but longer, more steep uphill climbs. Because of the recumbent nature of Mark’s modified road bike, his center of gravity is back to the rear of the bike which was anything but helpful up these hills, let alone his compromised lower extremity strength. At one point, about 10 climbs into the park Mark reached a hill that stopped him dead in his tracks. We jumped off our bikes to help and just as Mark started to roll backwards he stopped his pedals and was adamant that no one help him up the hill and he’d  make it on his own; and he did just that. Crank by crank he finally reached the summit of the hill with no help and after a “wow that was tough”, Mark went right back down the other side and continued to ride. This was a defining point of our day, and made us realize how special this experience was.

I’ve never met an individual with more grit and determination to conquer odds as much as Mark Stephan, this experience on his ride has inspired me to bring back his story and share it with as many people as I can here at RIC and wherever I go. Truly ReMARKable.”

Photos From the Road

Pictures from the RIC Send Off!