Often when you think of the Children's Miracle Network, the smallest patients come to mind.
At 17-years-old, Mark Stargel considered himself to be quite grown up. It was only after a catastrophic accident that he realized how much of a kid he still was inside, needing the tender care and attention that comes so naturally to the staff at UMC.
It's all the colors that bring Mark's artwork to life. Watching his passion unfold, you would never guess that a year ago Mark's outlook on life was a dark one.
June 18th, 2006 was meant to be a day of fun in the sun with family and friends. Mark aboard a sea-do was helping with the boat races at Buffalo Springs Lake, when something went terribly wrong.
"One of the boats hit me. It was immediately severed. It was a numbing, burning freezing sensation all at the same time and I don't really exactly remember the pain but I remember looking down and seeing it was gone," says Mark.
In a split second, Mark lost his left leg.
"I think it was the weirdest feeling I've ever had. Just one minute it was there and you know I don't have it anymore," says Mark.
Mark was immediately airlifted to UMC and placed in the hands of complete strangers, but from the get-go, Nancy Stargel knew her son was in the best care.
"From the point, I knew they were good doctors and we trusted them. The best thing - they communicated with us," says Nancy.
Mark spent 21 days in the hospital and has undergone three surgeries in the past year alone but, today he's doing what he thought could never be possible.
"I've got an artificial leg, but I can drive and still go out with friends and do stuff like that. I'm back to normal," says Mark.
For almost a year, rehab has become part of Mark's routine - hard work that Mark's doctors say has paid off.
"I mean, what an incredible kid, talk about a recovery from a terrible injury. He's a walking miracle and he's walking," says Dr. Roger Wolcott.
It's a recovery mark and his doctors say could not have been possible without the help of the Children's Miracle Network.
"That is a million dollar injury. Obviously I mean everything that he has needed in the hospital, out of the hospital, in the therapy gym, equipment he's needed at home, equipment that he needs to wear that's very expensive, so obviously everything he's got has been more than a blessing because that's what's going to give him his independence and help him to do the things he needs to do to live life again," says Dr. Wolcott.
For Mark now, it's about helping others.
"Their families need all the help they can get because they need to be able to see they're going to get through and they're going to go on and do what they want to do and they can have dreams and Children's Miracle Network allows them to do that," says Mark.
It's the care and encouragement that Mark says he received from the staff at UMC that made him realize his future is still a bright one.
"You know, I've realized I can do pretty much anything I want to do now that I did before or that even I didn't do before," says Mark.
Mark is also set to receive a prosthesis that will allow him to run within the next couple of months. And he will start college at Northwest Texas in Denton in the fall. He plans on majoring in radio, television and film.
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