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Congratulations, Kevin!

August 10, 2011

As many of us are aware, our own Kevin Mark will be participating in the Semifinal Speech Contest of Toastmasters International, which begins on August 18. Congratulations, Kevin, on this tremendous achievement! We shall be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, as you prepare, travel, and speak. We’ll send Allison and Kevin off with our prayers this Sunday.

We are thrilled that Kevin has agreed to share with us the two speeches he has prepared for Las Vegas, at our Sunday Services (one at 8:30 and the other at 10:00), on Ministry Sunday, September 11. What a wonderful part this will be of this day’s celebration of the ministries for which Our Lord has equipped the members of his Body to serve!

For several weeks we have had hanging in the Hall a print version of a July 8th article about Kevin. Here it is in electronic form: 

Calgarian Eyes Toastmasters World Championship

By Sean Myers, Calgary Herald – July 8, 2011

The injury that ended Kevin Mark’s hockey aspirations and put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life didn’t quell his competitive spirit.

A bodycheck from behind sent Mark headfirst into the boards when he was 16  and left him a quadriplegic.

Thirty years later, Mark is getting set to compete in the Toastmasters  International World Championship of Public Speaking in Las Vegas in August.

He is one of 82 district winners who rose to the top from among 30,000  competitors in 113 countries.

“The one thing that I can still do is talk, so I thought why don’t I try and  maximize some of the skills that I have and try to do it as best as I can,” said  Mark, 46.

Mark grew up in Yorkton, Sask., and moved to Calgary in 1988 with an  engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

He spent eight months in traction in the Plains hospital in Regina in 1982.  It’s an experience that forms the basis for the winning speech he used at the  District 42 final on April 30 that made him the top speaker in Alberta and  Saskatchewan.

“It’s about help, why people should ask for help and people should give  help,” said Mark. “In my situation, I do have to ask for help for a lot of  things.”

Mark joined Toastmasters nearly 14 years ago and has competed most years  since, reaching second place at the District 42 final 10 years ago.

Competitors are judged based on criteria including content, organization,  vocal variety and grammar.

An account manager with Enmax, Mark loves performing in front of crowds — the  bigger the better, he says.

But being stuck in a chair has forced him to become creative at fulfilling  the body-gesture criteria of the judging.

“One of the biggest concerns for me is how do I give a speech and move  around,” said Mark.

“I have to work really hard at thinking how am I going to move around and try  to use what body capability I have to match up to what other people can do with  full use of their body.

“It’s a challenge for me. I try to construct my speech so it does facilitate  some movement that I’m able to do.

“But everybody has their strengths and weaknesses in different areas.

“I have personal stories I can use that other people don’t have. There are  certain things I can do that other people don’t do as well.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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