It was a snowy afternoon in January 2017 and lifelong Southie resident Mark Conde headed upstairs for a quick nap. After a couple of hours, Mark awoke to find that he had lost all function in his legs. He physically could not move.
After weeks of confusion and anxiety, doctors told Mark that he had Neurosarcoidosis – a rare autoimmune disease that affects the nerves in the brain and along the spinal cord. Its cause is unknown, and it is a very difficult disease to spot. There were no answers to his “why?” and no immediate resolution. Nevertheless, he remained positive and focused on finding the absolute best treatment he could find to ensure that he would overcome his diagnosis.
That’s when Mark came to Journey Forward. Journey Forward is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to bettering the lives of those who have suffered a spinal cord injury or other paralysis through an intense exercise program designed to assist them with achieving some of the most basic lifelong functions and benefits. Located in Canton, MA, Journey Forward was founded by Dan Cummings – a man who suffered a spinal cord injury at 19 and had to fly across the country to find a facility that would teach him how to walk again, and not how to live in a wheelchair.
From the time he’s been at Journey Forward, Marc has lost 21 pounds, gained immense core strength and mental clarity and increased mobility. He has another support group and a team of trainers pushing him towards his goal. In the spirit of some friendly competition, Mark and his wife made a bet that if Mark could walk on his own by the end of the summer, she’d owe him $100. He worked rigorously in every session and remained laser focused on his goals.
This September, Mark won the bet. He took his first steps in overcoming paralysis. In a game of inches, Mark continues to make progress with the help of his amazing support system and team of trainers.