Giving back one street at a time

When a slipped disc put Mark Shupe’s next marathon on hold, he made a new audacious goal: walk every street in Calgary. Then, an unexpected heart attack put Mark’s plans on hold again… But Mark’s perseverance means he has one clear finish line in mind, and he is crossing it to pay it forward.

Mark was an active marathon runner, having run 17 marathons throughout his life, including the New York City marathon with his dad in 1985. He loved running and found it to be an excellent way to help battle the stresses of work and life. Unfortunately, one week following his 50th birthday, Mark experienced a slipped disc which put an abrupt stop to his running plans. After a lot of hard work, he was able to come back from this setback. In January 2018, he set the audacious goal to walk or run every street in Calgary to help him get back into shape. In February of 2020, just two years into this goal, Mark experienced a major heart attack, requiring triple bypass surgery at the Foothills Medical Centre. After watching his parents battle early-onset Parkinson’s and cancer, heart disease was not on the top of the list of illnesses he thought would happen to him.

“Things were chaotic with Covid at this time but the team at Foothills made me a priority and the care I received was excellent. I am amazed at how hard everyone works, from the nurses to my full care team,” said Mark.

In November of 2020, just nine months after his first heart attack, Mark was on track to head back to the NYC Marathon he had run with his dad 35 years previously. He planned to do the 1/2 marathon as a walk/run combo in the same time they had run the full marathon. But his heart had other ideas and, right before Christmas, he experienced his second heart attack and the NYC Marathon was off the table.

Mark is not someone who feels sorry for himself or dwells on his heart disease. He is extremely positive and motivated to make a difference. Fully aware of the impact his story is making, he chose to give back to the team at Foothills Medical Centre who ultimately saved his life. He is raising funds for the cardiovascular unit where he stayed to help make a difference for all the patients who will come after him. He is also working hard to create awareness about the symptoms related to heart disease.

“I did not listen to or understand the signs that my body was telling me. Two months prior to my first heart attack, I experienced dizzy spells and some chest pain while on the treadmill. I brushed it off at the time, but I encourage anyone reading this to listen to your body and get checked out before it is too late.”

Mark plans to finish walking the streets of Calgary this summer.

What is next for Mark? His upcoming goal is to “write and walk” the pathways of Calgary – he will walk the pathways and take time to enjoy the view while he writes his latest book. Look for him on the streets or pathways and make sure to stop and chat- we are sure you will be as inspired by him as we are! 

Make sure to visit Marks’ website, where he will chronicle the rest of his walking adventures along with heart and health-related information. And make sure to check out Mark’s first novel, “The Wish Doctor”, which he wrote after his second heart attack and will be published later this year.

To donate to support Mark’s journey across Calgary for cardiac care patients, visit his fundraising page.

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