Mark Zupan

As Interviewed By Fiona R., March 9, 2019

Mark Zupan: In His Own Words

I am Fiona and recently I interviewed Mark Zupan, a US Paralympic champion. He won a bronze and a gold medal for the United States in wheelchair rugby. I am about to play an excerpt from the interview where Mr. Zupan describes how supportive his family and friends were after he broke his neck.

I went to a pretty big high school and you look back now, I still have the same friends that I did back then, now. You know, It was kind of an interesting time because everyone just went off to college, and I break my neck, end up in the hospital, so people came from wherever they were at school to come down and check in -- very supportive.

One of my best friends in the world, he’s responsible just for me still being alive, still being who I am. ‘Cause he could tell that something was wrong. He was going to the University of Florida, which is in Gainesville, which is about three and a half - four hours from where I was and he’d pick up the phone, because we didn’t have cell phones then so you couldn’t text someone. Picks up the phone and he’s like “Zupan what are you doin’?” I’m like “I’m sitting here.” He goes “What do you mean?” “I’m in a wheelchair.” He goes, “Oh, ok.” So he drives down.

You know, I remember one of the first times that he came down he goes, “Get in the car.” “I’m not -- We’re not going anywhere.” “Get in the car.” Got in the car. He [left] my wheelchair in the lawn and we just drove around. And just kinda talked and figured out you know, what’s going on. So I had a lot of support. I was really, you know, real lucky that I had the friends that I did. And I mean my mom and dad, they were very supportive as well. So.

It was a shock because when you hear “Oh my god, he was in an accident!” You don’t think break your neck, in a wheelchair, kinda thing. So it was kind of a surprise as well.

Here is another excerpt from the interview in which he describes how it felt to win a gold medal for his country.

It’s kind of a weight off your shoulders, you just go “Wow. Well, finally.” ‘Cause this is what you’ve been trying to do and aiming for for years and years and years. And you finally achieve that goal and you just go, “Alright, well, that’s done. Now what are we going to do.”

It was surreal because you know, winning a bronze medal is cool -- it’s not gold, you know. You feel that you left something out there to achieve.

It was pretty cool ‘cause when you look around the game’s over, you look and you see your mom, you see you dad, you see your friends, in the stands, and they’re just there to support, and they finally see you reach your goal. It’s pretty surreal I’m not gonna lie. It was pretty fun.