10 years and kicking

How does one summarize a major life-changing event 10 years post injury. An event that has changed the way I eat from how I hold my silverware, cups I drink out of cups I can’t drink out of, how I drive my car, how I get in and out of a car, the inability to tie my own shoes, the way I use the restroom, how I shower, what leisure activities I can, and cannot do, and impacts to relationships. 

10 years ago, I completely dislocated my C-5/6 vertebrae, resulting in complete paralysis and began a journey that nobody I think will ever truly be able to put into words. The emotional, physical, and mental journey, that you go through when an injury like this happens is so unique to each individual. Even for those that are injured it’s really hard to tell another injured individual when certain thing will hit you, what you will, or will not experience and when you experience it. The longer your injured you can give ideas of what to expect but there is not order of events. For myself, I feel like I kind of came out of the gate strong and was doing really well, and then, as the journey went on, I got tired. And then, as I got tired, we rolled into Covid, where in a world already not designed for the disabled stop, the isolation became very heavy. And as much as I hate to say it, I gave up, and fell into a very dark place, where it was filled with anxiety and depression. 

I am happy to say that I have officially given up giving up as of about eight months or so. It has been an amazing journey of reconnecting with my faith and reconnecting with who I am. And not only connecting with who I am, but coming to a place of trying to accept where I am and that as much as I may or may not like my physical condition or where I’m at, that fighting it is not a valid option. So, I’m working on excepting me. I am determined to be the best version of me, and accepting that in life, there are many things that I have no control over.

I was watching the show “Shrinking” and Dr. Paul Rhoades (Harrison Ford) said, “no one gets through this life unscathed. Are you going to let grief drown you? Or are you going to face it?”.

When I heard this, it really resonated with me because I know it’s the truth. I have friends who are in the same boat that I am in, that are fighting cancer, who have lost a child before they should, houses have burned down, and the list goes on and on. And I have allowed myself to drown in my own grief, and I can tell you that it is not the option that you should choose. However, to face something head-on is very daunting and scary and made me recently think of something I read the other day.

Colorado is one of the few places in the world where buffalo and cows live in such close proximity, also making it one of the few places to witness the “buffalo in the storm” phenomenon. When storms come over the Rocky Mountains, they almost always brew from the west and roll out towards the east to the great Kansas plains.

And when the cows sense a storm coming, they begin running east to avoid it. Makes sense right?

Two problems…

1. Cows are slow.

2. Once the storm inevitably catches up, the cows stick with the plan and keep running right along with the storm.

Enter the buffalo…

In the exact same plains during the exact same storm, you can see the buffalo get in position and wait for the clouds to roll over the mountain ridge.

Once they do, the buffalo turn and charge directly into them.

Instead of running away from the storm, they run straight through it.

Between the cows and the buffalo…

Which group was able to effectively prevent the storm?

Which group spent more time being wet and cold, the ones avoiding the pain or the ones attacking it?

Knowing that none of us can get through this life unscathed. It is more important for us to support those around us with love. We truly never know what one is going through as there are many things that people are battling that are unseen. As I continue my journey with a new frame of mind and a renewed energy and vigor for life. And given up, giving up, I encourage all of us to always remember to reach a handout to those around us. This last year plus, I can honestly say has been possibly harder than even being paralyzed but I can also say now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting brighter every day. That I’m coming out, happier and stronger than I ever thought was possible and though I don’t know what tomorrow holds I have hope.

When we were in Colorado at Craig Hospital for rehab Sarah had a saying that she would always tell me, do today well. I now understand what that means. And today I want to encourage you, to do today well. We are not promised tomorrow, and there are always two days we can never do anything about, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Maybe the ultimate question…….


Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

It’s the second sentence or statement we all struggle with in life. And I feel like this is the reason many people question how there can be a good God or one at all. One could look at my accident, a friend who was in an accident during a bicycle race resulting in a traumatic brain injury that he has had to work through now, a missionary on a mission trip who has a brain aneurysm, and then a recent blow received regarding a friend, a really close friend who now has a battle on his hands. As I try to write this in between wiping the tears from my face I am just really overwhelmed with emotions and questions.

I don’t understand cancer………. I don’t like it and I don’t understand how it picks the people it does. I have known countless people that have had to fight this who are healthy and live good lifes. And then you see those people who have been smoking and drinking and other activities and they just seem to go forever.

So today I’m writing because I been going over this topic of how bad things can happen to good people. And for over a month I have only been able to come up with one response for answer. And I continually go back to my favorite Scripture in the Bible John 16:33 and it states…. For trouble WILL come but to take peace in him for he has overcome the world. So it’s in these hard times when I so want to question God and raise my fist and yell at him because I don’t understand and I’m frustrated and I’m hurt. Times like these where I make myself go back to that Scripture and I rest in that peace that I have in salvation and what was accomplished by the cross. And I remind myself we were never guaranteed an easy life and even Christ himself suffered one of the most horrific deaths so that we could know that John 16:33 is a reality because at the cross is where he conquered everything. And even John 3:16 says that for God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life………..

So as I cry, and I hurt, I pray for my friend’s strength through this, I pray for his family and I pray they would have and know that peace that can only come from Christ himself.

So I write today asking that you join me in prayer for a miracle for my friend and his family and I write today to get this thought that has been on my mind for a while that I think so many of us ask and don’t understand out there. And I pray that for those that want to blame Christ or God when bad things happen that this would maybe help you look at it a little different. And instead go to him for their/your peace as there is no peace in anything else. Science or any other methodology out there or theology or whatever can answer this question of why bad things happen to good people.

And to my friend should you read this, I love you and I am ready to fight with you and for you and cry with you. And like I told you, as I have not let this injury define me you will not let this define you that is not who we are.

Celebrating second year anniversary

It’s that time year again where I find myself doing a lot of reflecting and taking a look at life. It’s turned out to be a really good thing as it is a time where I get to celebrate my anniversary with my amazing wife now of 17 years and it’s also a time where I get to celebrate my second year post spinal cord injury. I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine and he put it well, that it has to feel a little odd. It’s odd to celebrate two years of a spinal cord injury as it definitely brings in some sadness of what things used to be. However, it’s definitely a reason to celebrate, the fact that I’m alive and my boys still have a dad, Sarah a husband, my parents have a son, my brothers and sisters still have a brother and my friends still have a friend.



And the new relationships and friendships that I have strengthened/ gained from this injury are endless from the Boots family, Keller family, Aaron Knighton, Natalie Wagner, Kyle Pearson. Ian Raulston and family, Schubert family, Fialia family, Cumming family, Sweeney family, Wingerson family, Scott and Sherry Johnson, my neighbor Larry and Ann(who have become amazing friends and continue to give and help whenever they can), the cycling community all over, church(Washington/Colorado), the North shore lifeguard crew at Waimea Bay, Jonathan Shirley who continues to stay in contact, Tippy who flew me over from Queens Hospital to Colorado who has become an amazing friend, HTC family, Rad Racing family, Motofish family  and the list could go on and on. Please know that if I miss you I am very sorry.


So part of reflecting is also looking back at where you come from, the key is to just take a look and not to focus or dwell there. Why? Well the past is the past and I have no desire to live there or stay there. I have no choice I must move on, I know there are bigger things in front of me things that I’m not even drink of war thinking of and for those of you that know me I’m a big dreamer and thinker. I will continue to fight the thought that March 6, 2013 will define me or break me. In matter of fact I cannot wait for the day that I get to go back to Waimea Bay with my family and get right back in that water where I was injured and celebrate.

hand bike

In regards to what happened in the last year, I know I am a terrible blogger and I will continue to try and get better as time moves on. A lot of happened in the last year, I am now independently driving to and from work and all over which has been huge. It’s funny I don’t think I realized how big of an impact driving was going to have on the, it’s given me sense of need and ability to give back and feel let a contributing part of the family again. And today I was actually able to drive-through Starbucks pick my wife up a coffee and take it to her at work! And if anyone is reading this who is fighting a spinal cord injury get back behind the wheel don’t let this injury stop you. Yes it’s different, yes it’s hard and yes it’s rewarding.

wpid-wp-1407549306391.jpeg wpid-wp-1407549318307.jpeg

I’ve also been the past year started a foundation called FindingHUP. The simple concept or idea behind this foundation is to help people dealing with paralysis to get back in the mix #getbackinthemix. Whether that be through hand cycle, shooting, billiards, fishing, driving, work and the list could go on and on. We are very new and still trying to get things going but I’m very excited about reaching out and helping other people deal with life.


The mind of an athlete no matter what level never rests. It is always hungry for more. More dirt, road, water, snow – the list is long. Sadly sometimes life drops bombs on our bodies that we can’t anticipate or expect.
We may be “broken” but we are never discouraged. Why? Because of faith, family and friends. These three things are the key to fixing the “broken” and getting back to the business of feeding the mind and body of the athlete.
HUP HUP – ring goes the cowbell.
As a rider on course you thrive when these words of  encouragement hit you. Often times its on an up or right before the barriers — motivation to get you through and going faster and stronger. Exactly the same for an athlete searching for adaptive options. Getting out of the chair and back in the mix. Rooted in cycling but applicable to all sports ——- “I still want to go. I still can go. I just need find things and places that will help and enable me to go. —

I was also able to travel to Austin Texas this year to cheer on Gideon at the race and then we did a full mountain bike and cyclocross schedule here locally. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak/share my story of how God is walking me through this journey at two different churches and one school. And this is something I would like to try and expand or explore more. It’s been really rewarding and freeing to be able to share this journey with people and to share with them how my Savior has never left my side and to share all the amazing stories of how he provided for us in Colorado. From a simple answer to a prayer of Lord please provide me with a Christian PT and OT, from my family need a house to live in, we need furniture for this house and we have bills to pay. All of those prayers were answered and they were not only answered we were provided with above and beyond.

2015 CX Natz Austin, TX 1.10.15-1441 (1)

So, yes these two years have been hard and then they’ve been good and then I’ve had times where I’ve felt like have been all alone in the desert and then at times where I feel like I could climb Mount Rainier. Towards the end of last year I had to come to the reality of “wow, I’m battling with depression”. And that was tough, I’ve never had to deal with depression. But I’ve dealt with it and am moving on….

i have a plan

Also just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has and continues to pray for me. God is not done here, I believe that with everything and I will stand on his word until the very last day. I have already seen God provide for me and heal me and there is more healing and provision down the road. Now does that healing mean that I will walk? I don’t know and I’m not worried about that. I have not been called to live a life of worry but rather one of victories and glory. But I do believe that if it is his will in this lifetime I will walk again. And right now there are many ways I may not be physically walking but I’m running and leaping and jumping. As I approached this day last week the Lord gave me the following word out of Philippians 4:10 MSG “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am”.


As you read this maybe take some time later tonight, tomorrow,  next week and reflect. Think about all the blessings you have around you. Think about how you need to enjoy those more. Enjoy the quiet times and enjoy the loud crazy times. Enjoy every minute you have and treasure it as you don’t know if you will have the next minute, days, months, years. Life is too short to live with a grudge, forgive – forget – move on – celebrate. Bitterness and grudges and hate will only destroy and bring you down. It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong, who hurt who first, who always says I’m sorry first. It really does not matter.


With that here is a short video that was put together at one of the churches I spoke at…



The mind of an athlete no matter what level never rests. It is always hungry for more. More dirt, road, water, snow – the list is long. Sadly sometimes life drops bombs on our bodies that we can’t anticipate or expect.

We may be “broken” but we are never discouraged. Why? Because of faith, family and friends. These three things are the key to fixing the “broken” and getting back to the business of feeding the mind and body of the athlete.

HUP HUP – ring goes the cowbell.

As a rider on course you thrive when these words of  encouragement hit you. Often times its on an up or right before the barriers — motivation to get you through and going faster and stronger. Exactly the same for an athlete searching for adaptive options. Getting out of the chair and back in the mix. Rooted in cycling but applicable to all sports ——- “I still want to go. I still can go. I just need find things and places that will help and enable me to go. — We can help.FindingHUP.org

Rifle and Pistol Mount for Quadriplegics

Help a good friend of mine and Iraq war injured warrior!! #FindingHUP


My name is Ian and I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to help start a foundation calledFinding Hup. The goal of this foundation is to get quadriplegics (or other SCI survivors and caregivers) out and doing things that they thought they might not be able to do due to their injury.

On May 29, 2010 I was struck by shrapnel from an IED at the C2 level. This injury has left me paralyzed from the neck down. Without doubt, this is an incredibly difficult situation to come away from with a positive attitude. Our goal is to show other quadriplegics that you can still achieve goals and perform activities that many may believe can no longer be accomplished due to our injuries.

We want to do what we can to get SCI survivors doing things they used to love doing, or maybe try out something that they never thought they’d be able to. We want to reignite the passion that some people may have lost after injury. I certainly can attest, it can be difficult to get out and do things that you used to love doing.

One of my passions, and a passion that I would love to share with survivors and caregivers alike is shooting. Shooting was one of my most enjoyed activities before I was injured. Thanks to a company called Be Adaptive, we will be able to share this joy again. Be Adaptive makes firearms mounts that allow high-level quadriplegics to operate a firearm with their mouth.

Our goal is to raise enough money to purchase two of these mounts and potentially a few firearms to mount to them. We won’t be setting up any rewards for donors at this time, as we are just starting. However, there will be photos posted to Facebook once were able to get these mounts and get some people together to hit the range.

Anything you can donate will be greatly appreciated, and will be put to good use. As we are just starting this out, we will keep everybody posted as things move along. Thank you for helping make this project possible!


(While we are in no way affiliated with Be Adaptive, we will be purchasing our equipment through them. If you’d like to see what products they offer go tohttp://www.beadaptive.com/ )

Van for the Benders

So I know I gave not posted anything fur a long time. Well, the Bender family needs your help again. I found the PERFECT car and will be looking at it tomorrow. Quite frankly, we can’t do this on our own. We need 550 people to give $30 and we can purchase this car  for our family. So here it is

Help me rally and spread the word, please share and please give what you can. You can give here http://lnkd.in/bsWGcba, and it is a tax deductible donation.







One year ago


Well I thought it would be interesting to try and find the last picture that I took with my phone before the injury, and this is it.. We just finished the following ride http://app.strava.comactivities/43312464 and stop by a small restaurant in Honolulu for lunch and after that went to the beach. It was a great day enjoy it a lot andin general the whole trip was still one of the most will say epic trips Sarah and I have taken.  and this ride was actually one of my favorite rides the whole trip as we rode up Tantalus and down and then hit this super old highway that was really cool and then use for very long time.

I also did have a grandiose plans of posing a really cool blog yesterday recapping my one year so on and so on. However, the night before I was praying and felt like I needed to interview or have my boys interview me and then that would be my blog. So that’s what I moved forward with yesterday and to be honest with you I was not ready fully for their questions. With that said I’m in the process of typing up the questions in my response and my goal is to keep it very real not edit anything there is a lot of emotions last night, good emotion. And I think everybody will really enjoy reading at once I get it all typed up. So with that said hopefully I can get the interview done here shortly and post it for everyone.

And if you are wondering below is the next picture after the above picture.


A couple quick thank you’s!

One more quick note: I would like to give a public thank you to a couple of my supporters and if you’ve noticed I added a supporter’s link that I will keep updated.

                        MOTOFISH BLUE

First and foremost I’d like to thank my good friends of Motofish Images who have done so much for me as far as putting fundraiser T-shirts out there, working on getting races done to help me and overall their amazing friendship.


I would also like to thank Doma Coffee, for jumping in early and making major sacrifices for our first fundraiser.  The fundraiser blew away everyone’s expectations and I am still in continual awe at what they did for us.  They are amazing new friends and I look forward to journeying on this new path with them as I continue to heal.  They make amazing coffee!  Everybody who knows how much I like coffee!


And last but not least I’d like to give a huge shout out and thank you to DT Swiss who has graciously donated wheels for my hand bike that I’m working on with Jake at Reactive Adaptations. As well as offered to build 26” wheels for my wheelchair! Thank you guys so much for helping me in my journey in getting back on a bike! I have some big plans for this year and 2015 moving on and will represent you well.

Our Colorado trip


Okay so I’m not the world’s best blogger, actually probably very far from it and I do apologize for the super delayed posting/update/news since my pre-Colorado trip. However with that said here is a quick recap on our Colorado trip and then as most of you know tomorrow is a significant date as far as my injury goes as it is my one year anniversary from my accident. So I will post another blog tomorrow with some more thoughts.

Colorado was a really good trip, got to see a lot of family and friends unfortunately we were not able to see all the new Colorado friends which is always a bummer but seems like there’s never enough time to do everything. The main agenda for the Colorado trip was 1) see Sarah’s family and hang out with them 2) reevaluation at Craig hospital and 3) national cyclocross race for Gideon. So the first week we got there we were able to spend some really good quality time with Sarah’s family just hanging out to going sledding to going out to different restaurants. Gideon was able to do a couples pre-national cyclocross races so all the cousins and everybody came out to cheer for him. In general it was some good hangout, conversation and catching up time. It was also really for good and important for the boys to hang out with their cousins as they have not seen the Myers cousins for a long time and they really miss them since they moved to Alaska!

Sunday night we drove back up to Craig and it was very interesting pulling in that first night as it definitely brought back some memories as far as where I was when I first arrived with my new friend Tippy and where I am now. And though I have to admit I have probably come a long ways for me I still expected to be further along the next time I came back to Craig. I was also very excited to see many familiar faces at the hospital who all helped me along my journey. The first day I met my PT and OT for that week my nurse and the battery of testing began. There was lots of sensory and motor testing to be done over the next 2 to 3 days as well as wheelchair fit and adjustments, wheelchair push analysis, seat analysis and working with my OT in making some adaptive devices for day-to-day activities. I was also able to try out different push rims and just different things for the chair. As far as the sensory testing it seemed like I had lost some sensory but in gain sensory in other areas, given that I was still within my one year I think a lot of it is just the body still adapting to be honest with you and healing. As far as motor testing, I’m definitely stronger than when I was when I first arrived and left the hospital. All in all I’m able  to get around a lot better so that’s good and we continue to see improvements still. That Wednesday night we met with the neurosurgeon regarding the Syrinx cyst. I know a lot of you have been praying about this and for this and I truly appreciate that and am very sorry for this the late update. So good news regarding the cyst is at this time there is zero reason to look at surgery and its undetermined if it is actually a cyst or what they call tethering or scar tissue. So every spinal cord injury  basically will develop tethering around the point of entry injury, what you have to watch for. If that tethering continues up or down the spinal cord. The short end of the story is per the doctor as long as I have not lost any mobility which I have not I have actually gained I am not a candidate for surgery. However, if I start to lose mobility then we maybe need to start looking at our options, he basically said that if it’s needed I will be begging him for surgery. Good news is I don’t plan on so onward and forward. And really that was the great news for me was that the doctor encouraged me to live life to the fullest and to stay active. Which for me was not the message and story I was receiving nor was it what I was reading out there on the famous internet. And so this is the direction I am moving and will betray more information with everybody regarding future hand bikes, sit cross-country skiing, and maybe even kayaking.

After meeting with the doctor we drove back to Boulder for the big dance, national cyclocross championships. This was Gideon’s second year racing at nationals and it did bring back memories of the previous year when Gideon and myself traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for his first national championships. We both reminisced many times during this trip as to how much fun we had and all the memories we have of that trip. It was also a reminder of how much things have changed. As we tried to get Gideon mentally ready to race, I have to honestly say that I think he was overly distracted with I think a lot of the reminders of Colorado and why we initially went to Colorado, his Colorado friends that he wanted to see and hang out with and spend time which is understandable, as well as friends on his Rad racing team. With that said Gideon’s race Friday definitely wasn’t the race that he wanted. He crashed three times, had a tough g,o but never quit and finished the race.  All in all I think it was a great learning opportunity for him and he had a lot of fun. And I think he was blown away by all the family support.

After that, we prepared to pack up, say goodbye to family which is never easy, as well as say goodbye to friends which is not easy. We then enjoyed the two day drive back to Washington. And that my friends is our Colorado trip in a nutshell.

First blog post ever

So here we go this will be my first ever official blog post, I’ve never even comment on somebody else’s blog or been an individual to read a lot of blogs so this is very new to me. And matter-of-fact I think one of the first blogs I read was Johnathan Pages last week. So you may ask why I’m doing this, I’ve felt for a while that this is something that would be not only good for myself just to get my comments and feelings and thoughts out of me but also would give me the opportunity to continue to communicate to everyone who has supported me through this whole adventure/endeavor and as we fight this together everyone will be on the same page. So you may ask, do you still think you’re going to walk Mark? Yes, I don’t know when and I don’t know how but I know it will happen

So first I should probably give everybody an update on how I’m doing, overall. It’s been tough adapting to the changes and every now and then there is the harsh reality that hits me and reminds me that things are drastically different. For example one of the things that I never expected was how much I miss commuting to work on my bike and how I took that time and those beautiful trails and just fresh air for granted.

So about 3-4 weeks ago we headed to UW to find out the results from a MRI that was taken to see how the neck was healing. Well, we were informed that I have a Syrinx cyst on my spinal cord, you can find out more information on exactly what this is here. I have to admit it was like getting punched in the gut and I did have the thought of God we are supposed to be going the other direction, getting better not worse. The good news is that we found it early and we can watch it, at this point we need to make sure it doesn’t get any bigger, and ideally that it would get smaller and/or disappear. So if I have a prayer request it would definitely be for this syrinx to go away. Other than this really if I’m honest with myself things are progressing pretty good, not as fast as I would like but I’m moving forward triceps are stronger my biceps are stronger I still have good strength in both directions with wrist and my overall health is in good.

Since we got back the Bender boys have been very busy with getting back to new life figuring out how things are going to operate with me in my current situation. First was getting the boys ready for school and starting school, soccer for all four boys, and then cyclocross season started and we are still in the middle of that. It’s been really good for the boys and me to continue to drive and strive for what used to be our old normal even though obviously things have changed and just in general takes a lot longer to get places to get ready and so forth. Cross season has been a lot of fun and I am continually blown away weekly at the races by continual support, prayers, and just friendship. We have one more race locally and then we will be heading to Colorado for the national championships in January as well as seeing family and friends  and a reevaluation a Craig hospital.

Well for now I think that’s a pretty good start for my first blog post I will continue to try and post to keep everyone updated on how I am doing as well the rest the family, share my thoughts and whatever else comes to mind.

And lastly again I would like to say thank you to everyone who continues to keep me uplifted in prayer.