Thirty years after suffering a traumatic brain injury that left him with lifelong disabilities, Worthington native Mark Minister is raising money for people who have suffered similar tragedies.
Minister and his wife, Brandy, have been fundraising for the annual Ohio State University Brain Injury Awareness 5K Run and 1 Mile Walk, which was scheduled Sunday, March 22, on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus.
However, the event has been canceled for that date because of concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Brandy Minister said Thursday, March 12.
Starr Jiang, president of Buckeyes Raising Awareness in Neuroscience, a student organization that facilitates the event, had said March 11 the coronavirus had organizers considering postponement.
“(Organizers) are deciding whether to have a virtual race or reschedule for August (or) September,” Brandy Minister said. “We are disappointed but understand safety is … most important.”
Meanwhile, the Ministers, who live near Polaris Fashion Place, still have a goal of raising $2,000 for the cause, according to their fundraising page at runsignup.com/30yearsstrong.
By March 11, they had raised $1,900 for the activity, Brandy Minister said.
Proceeds will benefit the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for brain-injury treatment and support.
Brandy Minister said 55 friends, family members and neighbors had pledged to participate in the 5K or 1-mile walk to support her husband.
“Overall, I feel great and am just happy to be here,” said Mark Minister, a 49-year-old Worthington High School graduate.
The outlook wasn’t so bright April 11, 1990, when Minister was in his plebe year at the U.S. Naval Academy.
While aboard the USS Courageous, a 44-foot sloop, the weather got rough, the wind kicked up and the ship’s boom block broke free and hit Minister in the head, breaking his jaw, neck and spine. The injury sent him into a coma.
On April 18, his 20th birthday, he woke up.
“The nurses sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me,” he said. “I don’t remember that.”
He spent two months in a Maryland hospital before returning to Columbus, where he would spend two years at the Wexner Medical Center’s Dodd Hall in inpatient and outpatient therapy for speech and occupational and physical therapies.
Minister, who is the son of the late former Worthington law director, Mike Minister, said he relied on sheer resolve, graduating from Otterbein College.
He worked for Huntington Bank for 16 years and Cokesbury Books & Church Supplies, which no longer exists, in the Graceland Shopping Center in north Columbus.
The years took their toll, and Minister found it more difficult to work, he said. He has been receiving disability payments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Injuries just made my memory a problem,” he said, adding that he also has cerebral palsy on his left side.
Brandy Minister, 45, said she met her husband in 2008 at Worthington Presbyterian Church while she was visiting family. Her aunt and uncle, Jim and Ellen Beller, were in the Worthington Presbyterian Church’s youth group with him.
“They spent many years talking about him,” she said. “I thought that was kind of interesting. Then I came to visit and met Mark, and we never were apart after that.”
She said she is impressed by her husband’s sunny spirit and sense of purpose.
“He has eternal optimism and determination,” she said.
Jiang said past events have had a “positive impact” on the local brain-injury community, and organizers hope it will “continue to foster community engagement and interaction between clinicians, researchers, students and survivors and their families.”
For more information about the annual fundraising initiative, go to u.osu.edu/brain/brain-injury-awareness-walk.