On April 15, 2012, Mark Stephan begins a surreal journey—cycling 3,129 miles across the southern United States in 75 days. While undertaking this journey is difficult for many to imagine, it is even more inspiring to realize that Mark will be doing it as a quadriplegic. The event is a fundraiser: all proceeds will support the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).
The Stephan Challenge is more than a one-time ride. It’s a culmination of years of grueling training to prove that the mind is more powerful than the body—or, in Mark’s case, that he can walk and ride a bike against all medical odds.
When Mark began thinking of the ride, he couldn’t even pedal a bike once. But his trainers suggested that the repetition of a bike pedals’ revolutions could be therapeutic. He’s now pushing his body daily to prepare for this monumental journey along the challenging Southern Tier bike route.
While he will be fully supported by his team, it will be Mark’s own pedaling that propels his bike on an incredible mission: a mission to prove to himself and to the world that anything is possible. A mission to ensure that the nation’s #1 Rehabilitation Hospital ushers in a new generation of scientific research to find a cure for generations of patients with spinal cord injuries like his.