You may have seen Dr. Mark Scioli at Covenant Hospital and wondered what happened to put him in leg braces with crutches. His story is what movies are made of. On the day that Mark hit his first ever homerun came the night that would change his life forever.
It was June 9th, 30 years ago, when Mark and a buddy had just finished their junior year and were out coyote hunting in the fields south of Lubbock. With Mark in the driver's seat, his friend in the back offered to unload his 30 ought 6 when the gun went off.
"I knew immediately I was hit because I couldn't move my legs," says Dr. Mark Scioli.
Mark was driven by his friend to two local clinics before an ambulance finally rescued the boys and rushed Mark to what was then Methodist Hospital. With a massive hole in his lower back, Mark underwent the first of five major surgeries.
"Half my liver, half my stomach, a large part of my small intestines all had to be removed," he says.
"The second operation he had a cardiac arrest that lasted for a few minutes. The second re-operation the cardiac arrest probably lasted about 15 minutes," says Dr. Bob Salem, surgeon.
While Dr. Salem massaged his heart to keep him alive, Mark flirted with death more than once.
"It is as they describe, a passage through a long dark tunnel with a bright, bright light." says Mark.
"We had been told he might have severe brain damage," says Gene Scioli, Mark's father. "He was really dying again after we thought he was going to make it."
But instead, Mark says he fell back into his bed to face the greatest challenge of his life: nine months of rehab.
"God almighty, it was such a good thing to have him back in this house," says Gene.
But Mark could hardly move, the bullet had blown out his lower vertebrae. His legs were paralyzed, and the pain was excruciating.
It was his mother, Helen, who forced him to go to therapy every day.
"Drag Mark under her armpits, kicking and screaming. It's no use. I don't want to go. It hurts. It hurts," says Gene.
"You do what you have to do and that was something you had to do," says Helen Scioli, Mark's mother.
All Mark wanted to do was get back to school for his senior year. Finally, with just six weeks left before graduation, his doctors gave him the okay to return to Monterey in his wheelchair.
"So, my buddies would pick me up -- literally. Two of them would scoop me up because Monterey had two floors and walk me up the steps, holding me," says Mark.
Then on graduation night, Mark surprised the class of '74 and stood up from his wheelchair and walked across the stage to get his diploma when his name was called.
"So, they called my name, and I got to go up," he says.
"It was printed in the program: don't applaud. And the whole coliseum, it was just an echo," says Camille Scioli McNamara, Mark's sister. "It was the most glorious happy feeling and the people were standing and shouting and they were so happy!"
Mark went on to medical school at Texas Tech to win the coveted gold headed cane award for the best graduate and surprised everyone again choosing orthopedics in which he stands without his braces during surgery, sometimes 13 hours a day.
He's been named among the best doctors in Texas, and he's continued his passion for hunting, bringing back all sorts of trophies from Africa and Australia. But he'll tell you he is most proud of his wife Debbie and two children, and he says when June 9th rolls around every year, he has no regrets.
"My mom always reminds me. She calls," says Mark. "My son asked me the other day, 'dad, do you ever think about wanting to walk again?' And I said you know what? No. Because whatever I would have to trade back for that, it would change where I came from and I am what I am right now because of what happened when I was 17. When something bad happens to you, you gotta make the best of it."