52-year-old Mark Stinnett is one of the younger residents at Athens Rehabilitation and Senior Care, located right across the street from Athens Limestone Hospital. His mind is like a steel trap, but as a young man his body began to fight with him slowly until he ended up in a wheelchair at the age of 37. He had dreams of being a “Top Gun” US Naval fighter pilot, but the combination of scoliosis, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis brought those dreams to an end.
Mark is a graduate of East Limestone High School, and before he became wheelchair bound he worked at Jiffy’s, Food World, and Quincy’s Steak House, (now HG Grill). “I knew my body was slowing down,” he told me, “but it took them awhile to find out what was wrong.” He loved sports, and went out for football in High School, but he knew something was wrong then. His body just wouldn’t move as quickly as it needed to. He also drag raced for five years, and I am glad he has those memories. His eyes twinkle when he talks about them.
He arrived at Athens Rehab in August of 2013, and since then has built a reputation of being quite good at playing Rook, which apparently is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Fellow “Spotlighters” Ruth Truett and Mary Johns apparently give Mark a run for his money when it comes to playing it. They are the queens, but he is the undisputed “King of Rook.”
He also enjoys “chicken foot” dominoes, a type of domino game about which I had never heard before, (again, somewhat complicated,) as well as Uno and other card games, but Rook is his favorite.
What’s his favorite color? “Red.”
What’s his favorite food? “Anything Mexican.”
Who is his favorite President? “Jimmy Carter.”
Who is his favorite actor? “I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood, and my favorite movie of his is ‘Hang ‘Em High.’”
The biggest change that has occurred in your lifetime? “How Athens has changed, the geography and the use of the land.” He told me about what the land on Highway 31 looked like before Athens High School was built, and other places.
His favorite caregiver at Athens Rehab and Senior Care Center is Sarah, and Lakeisha, who is the Activities Director, and Mark joke around a lot.
As the picture of Mark indicates, we are in the Lenten season, and he is enjoying wearing his “Fat Tuesday” beads. Athens Rehab had a grand Mardi Gras celebration, with all of the residents joining in a parade that started in one end of the building to the other, ending up in the main dining room. They had masks, and a traditional king cake, and the person who found the ring in their king cake was Paula Carter.
He grew up fellowshipping at Eastside Church of Christ, and his advice to young people is, “Enjoy your health, walking, speech. Enjoy life, and don’t take anything for granted.” Good words from a man who knows from experience, Mr. Mark Stinnett of Athens Rehab and Senior Center.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner