JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For John Marcus, the days of hitching rides or waiting to catch the bus are over. With his own wheelchair accessible van, the sky’s the limit. He remembers that first ride.
“The whole time we was (sic) riding, I was like, crying,” Marcus said. “Just crying, because it was my own van.”
Marcus was paralyzed in a serious crash during his senior year at Raines High School in 2003. That didn’t stop him from helping others. Over the years, he’s held countless charity drives, visited schools, mentored young people, and shared his inspiring story with people of all ages. In September 2018, he became a News4jax “Positively Jax” winner.
This past August, News4jax caught up with Marcus about his need for a wheelchair accessible van to help further his outreach and accomplish everyday tasks. His friends had created a GoFundMe page to make it happen. After airing Marcus' story in August, the donations came in quickly, eventually hitting above the $13,000 mark. Even Marcus was surprised by how quickly his goal became a reality.
“Like we talked last time, the goal was December,” Marcus said. “But it’s October, November now, and it’s here. It’s been a big help.”
Before finding its home with Marcus, the van belonged to our longtime executive producer, and ALS fighter, Sharon Siegel-Cohen. Despite her hard-fought battle, Sharon died earlier this year, leaving the News4jax newsroom and the community she knew, loved, and worked a better place.
IN LOVING MEMORY: Sharon Siegel-Cohen: How one woman meant so much to so many
In the spirit of helping others, it only seemed fitting a small piece of her is now with Marcus. Like Sharon, Marcus dedicates his life to making a difference and selflessly helping others. He has a message for her family.
“They blessed me with it, I appreciate them so much,” Marcus said. “If they’re watching, I want to say thank you because this has been a big help for me and my whole life.”
With his sights already set on his next chance to help others, Marcus' goal from here is to take his good work beyond Jacksonville. And, as always, continue to inspire.
“As the city of Jacksonville knows, with the John Marcus Project, I will walk again,” Marcus said. “I want everybody to know around the world to know that I will walk again. If I can do it, they can do it too.”
Two strangers in life, two giving hearts, now forever connected.
Marcus says he will be doing a Thanksgiving drive this year as he’s done in the past. He’ll now be able to meet a family to bless. He also wants to speak and share his story in cities outside of Jacksonville. Like Orlando and Tallahassee, to name a couple.
With the van, he knows his goals are much easier to accomplish now. The sky’s the limit.