Announcing the Stephan Challenge - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Published on April 11, 2012

Announcing the Stephan Challenge—Commencing April 15, 2012

Recovering Spinal Cord Injury Patient Mark Stephan Embarks on Monumental Bike Journey Across the Country to Benefit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

RIC Send-Off for Mark Stephan | April 11, 2011 | Press Welcome 

CHICAGO, IL—April 3, 2012—This spring, Chicagoan Mark Stephan will begin a surreal journey, cycling 3,129 miles across the southern United States. What makes this feat extraordinary is that Mark is a recovering quadriplegic. Mark sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury while biking in 2007. Defying medical odds, Mark has regained the ability and drive to retrain his legs to peddle a modified tricycle.

Mark's miraculous journey, The Stephan Challenge is a fundraiser in which all proceeds will benefit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the rehabilitation hospital he credits for helping in his ongoing recovery. The Challenge will kick off April 15, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. in San Diego, California and finish in St. Augustine, Florida.

RIC is holding a send-off reception for Mark and his team on Wednesday, April 11 at 3:30 p.m. to introduce Mark, his team and multiple supporters including the team of RIC physicians, researchers, therapists and other experts that have supported his recovery.

"This is more than a one-time ride for me," said Mark. "It's a culmination of years of grueling training, demonstrating the power of rehabilitation and proving that you can beat the odds. I am ecstatic to be taking on this challenge and giving back to RIC."

Mark attributes his astounding progress to RIC's unique focus on the integration of research and science in rehabilitative therapy and wants to give back to the hospital that gave him a second chance at life. Mark has already raised nearly $400,000. Proceeds will go towards RIC's new Research Hospital and help provide advanced care fueled by scientific research to generations of future patients with spinal cord injuries like his. The goal for the new hospital, which is currently in planning stages, is to bring 21st Century biomedical science and patient care closer together to create exceptional outcomes. It’s planned to open in 2016.

Cheered on by his family, friends, doctors, trainers and physical therapists back home, Mark's own pedaling will propel his bike on this incredible mission, along the Southern Tier bike route. Mark and his ride manager will be blogging throughout their journey. Mark’s will be joined by his friends, caregivers, family and some recovered RIC patients whom will ride with him along the way.  Below please find a full list of cities that Mark will be stopping in post Send-Off:

  • San Diego, CA
  • Pine Valley, CA
  • Ocotillo, CA
  • Brawley, CA
  • Blythe, CA
  • Salome, AZ
  • Wickenberg, AZ
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Superior, AZ
  • Peridot, AZ
  • Safford, AZ
  • Clifton, AZ
  • Silver City, AZ
  • Hillsboro, AZ
  • Las Cruces, NM
  • El Paso, TX
  • Ft. Hancock, TX
  • Van Horn, TX
  • Ft. Davis, TX
  • Marathon, TX
  • Sanderson, TX
  • Del Rio, TX
  • Camp Wood, TX
  • Kerville, TX
  • Blanco, TX
  • Austin, TX
  • Round Top, TX
  • Navasota, TX
  • Cold Spring, TX
  • Sitsbee, TX
  • De Ridder, LA
  • Washington, LA
  • St. Francisville, LA
  • Franklinton, LA
  • Poplarville, MS
  • Vancleave, MS
  • Dauphin Island, AL
  • Pace, FL
  • Defuniak Springs, FL
  • Chattahoochee, FL
  • Woodville, FL
  • Madison, FL
  • High Springs, FL
  • Gainesville, FL
  • Palatka, FL

To join the Stephan Challenge or learn more about this spectacular cause, visit


About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the nation’s leading provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world. Founded in 1953, RIC has been designated the “No. 1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC sets the standard of care in the post-acute market through its innovative applied research and discovery programs, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. The AbilityLab — RIC’s new, state-of-the-art research hospital, will open in March 2017. 

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