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Paralyzed Man Opens Gym To Help Others With Disabilities Rediscover Their Strength.

two disabled men work out with help at the Split Second Fitness Center in New Orleans

In 2016, Mark Raymond learned the hard way that life can change in a split second.

The New Orleans, Louisiana man was boating with friends when he dove off the stern and hit a sandbar, shattering the C5 vertebrae in his neck. He became paralyzed and spent months in the hospital trying to regain his strength. When he was discharged, he realized that the hard work was just beginning.

After Mark finished the outpatient therapy, he realized there was a serious lack of accessible gyms in his community. There were simply no gyms or facilities that could help people with different abilities work out and improve their health and wellbeing.

The lack of resources spurred Mark into action. With firsthand knowledge that anyone’s life can change in an instant due to a catastrophic accident, stroke, or other disabling events, he wanted to create a way to provide fitness and education to those who need it most.

In 2018, Mark founded the Split Second Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides treatment that picks up where outpatient therapy leaves off. In this accessible gym, specially-trained therapists provide recovery, education, and ongoing fitness classes for disabled patrons of all levels.

So far, more than 120 people have benefitted from their support services!

Mark hopes that the Split Second Foundation will provide more access to fitness and recovery services.

“Split Second Fitness has equipment for people who have different disabling conditions, live in a wheelchair, have a prosthetic leg,” Mark Raymond explained. “We have a staff that really understands those needs and knows how to work with those individuals. We are that loving part of the community that really understands them as a person, but also their physical limitations and needs, and we’re able to push them in a recovery-driven fitness environment to be their best self.”

Mark’s goal is to open more accessible gyms, and not just in New Orleans. Eventually he’d like to see the Split Second Foundation go nationwide to help even more people get their lives back after tragedy.

“People with disabilities should not be discounted as productive members of society,” he said. “Anybody’s life can change in a split second from some sort of accident or injury or disabling condition, and we are providing what’s next.”

When Mark couldn’t find the services he needed, he made some for himself, and others! This is the sort of ingenuity we love to see in the world.

Share this story to wish the Split Second Foundation success in its mission to make fitness inclusive and available for all.

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