INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – This Saturday is the 15th anniversary of the first Mini Marathon Indianapolis Attorney Mark Small ever walked.
If the name seems familiar, it’s because Small represents a group of tavern owners trying to overturn the Marion County smoking ban. Mark’s participation in the Mini Marathon required him to overcome a significant obstacle that hit him hard in 1994.
It’s not unusual to see Mark Small walking the Broad Ripple neighborhood streets where he lives. What is unusual is that there was a time Small, an Indianapolis appellate attorney, couldn’t walk at all. In 1994 he noticed numbness in his left leg below the knee.
First ignoring it, his wife eventually took him to the doctor.
“He came in and said you have a complete neurological emergency. Either a tumor on the brain or on the spine. Or Multiple sclerosis,” says Small.
Sitting in his house he remembers how quickly the doctor put him in the hospital and how fast the numbness progressed.
“It went from being numb just below the left knee to both legs were numb and I was falling down the day that we got to the hospital,” says Small. “The first full day I was in the hospital my legs were completely numb and they were like dish rags,” he says.
Mark, a 1978 DePauw graduate, was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis–MS. A disease that hits the spinal sheath of the central nervous system.
“The National MS Society Magazine will have stories about what people are dealing with and a lot of those stories can be really depressing. And my attitude was all you can do is say no. And move ahead. And do anything you can. So I started walking in the mornings. I was using crutches,” Small says.
It took time and medication but eventually he got stronger.
“And I built up to where I was walking distances long enough that I thought I might as well do the Mini. Because this is Indianapolis, everyone talks about doing the Mini,” says Small.
In 1999 he walked it for the first time.
“I was able to get through it in under 3 hours. And I think my best time was 2002–I got through it in 2 hours 42 minutes and 13 seconds,” he says.
Mark still has all the medals from all the Mini’s he’s been a part of. He says his walking helped him become more physically fit and overcome the mental and emotional barriers that the fight against MS can bring.
“I’d hope that if anything, it’s encouragement for others. Whatever it is they set their minds to, they can do that,” Small says.
Mark says the toughest part of the course is getting around the track. The track is usually the hottest part of the course. Heat is hard for those with MS to handle. But he pushes through.
Saturday, he’ll put on his shoes, shorts, his favorite DePauw shirt and a wide brimmed hat to keep out the sun, and walk 13.1 miles.
And, he says, he’s glad to do it.