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Heart condition doesn't stop Bridgewater man from doing what he loves

By NICOLE PITT

BRIDGEWATER, N.Y. (WKTV) Saturday morning thousands of people will take part in America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk in Utica. We're sharing with you another story of inspiration. A Bridgewater man was born with half of a heart, but that hasn't held him back from what he loves to do.

"My heart is on the opposite side, facing backwards. I only have two chambers instead of four. Also I have two 18 inch rods bolted to my spine." Mark Cummings was two and a half months old when doctors discovered his condition. He underwent three surgeries by the age of 6. Doctors told his parents to let Mark determine his level of activity. After he was given the go ahead from his doctors, Mark discovered karate.

"He never took no for an answer. He always just did what he wanted to do and did his best at it. And it all started with karate. I think karate literally saved his life," says Mark's mother Della Cummings. In 2000, as a teen, Mark walked into Brook's Karate School in West Winfield as after his first class- he was hooked.

Della says when Mark was a boy she was afraid to let him do just about anything. "We were terrified. But children are remarkable. When they are sick they will stop. The doctors kept telling us-- just let Mark make the decisions. And we learned after a long time to just let him go and let him do what he was capable of doing."

Mark was expecting to run with his boss during Saturday's event, but last minute his boss is unable to take part. Now he plans on walking with a group of his co-workers from M&T Bank. His mother hopes that Mark can make a difference.

"He is inspiring other people who may have this problem and not just other kids or other people who have heart conditions..but also other parents of children who have heart conditions to know that it's not the end of the world and there is a light at the end of the tunnel and they can get beyond it. And Mark is definitely proof of that," says Della.

Mark understands how he can be inspiring to other people, but he says he looks to others as his source of inspiration. "I find the greatest satisfaction....is to inspire and motivate other people. To know that I can, not change somebody's life, but change their outlook. And maybe say 'I can do it if he can do it.' That's a good feeling. Giving actually makes you feel good," says Mark. "It's really what you make out of it. You learn over the years. I mean, there are a lot of people out there who've had it harder than me."

"It's a real joy because he inspires me and he inspires others to go above and beyond what you normally can do," says Della.

Now at the age of 27, Mark has found a career with karate. He says he is moving in about a month to take a job with a company that takes karate pictures called "KickPics."