Greg Mark poses for a photo outside of the Clark C building at Colorado State University. (Photo: John Eisele)
There’s no shortage of people who want to talk about how much they adore Greg Mark.
His adopted daughter Carri Globensky said that he’s “got the biggest teddy bear heart in the world.” His boss Richard Adzgowski calls him an ideal employee who is “humorous, fun and adds levity to every day.”
“He’s got a lot of good energy, and I just think he’s a really good all-around guy,” said Edward Henry, an anthropology professor at CSU who got to know Mark while they worked in the same building.
The kind words are timely as Mark has been honored by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame with the 2020 Disabled Athlete of the Year Award. He was chosen for this honor by Special Olympics Colorado.
Colorado sports legends including Nuggets center and NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn are some of the other people who received awards that night.
“I’m not big on awards, but I’m happy and I’m excited about the award I’m getting,” Mark said.
It’s just another accomplishment in Mark’s Special Olympics career, which began in 1971. To put that into context, Special Olympics Colorado was founded in 1969.Over these last 50 years, Mark has competed in everything from tennis to bocce ball to triathlons, an endeavor the now-65-year-old just recently picked up.
“He’s willing to get out of his comfort zone and try new things he’s never done before,” said Ben Theune, the senior director of marketing for Special Olympics Colorado. “At his age, that’s a rare thing; that’s a pretty cool deal.”
Coach Diane Hlavacek said that she helped Mark pick up the triathlon, and he’s been training five or six days a week. That’s in addition to his full-time job as a custodian in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, and his duties as an athlete for Special Olympics Colorado.
He also recently adopted his 12-year-old granddaughter. She also competes in the Special Olympics, and Hlavacek credits Mark for mentoring her and helping her get out of her shell.
“Growing up, I was a shy little boy that wouldn’t talk to hardly anybody,” Mark said. The “Special Olympics has given me more confidence to speak up. I’m not so shy. I love meeting new friends and people.”
A composite photo of Greg Mark participating in his myriad of sports for Special Olympics Colorado (photos courtesy Special Olympics and Diane Hlavacek).
Over the years, many of those friends have become family who are inspired by the man who says he can’t stop moving because he refuses to be a “couch potato.”
“I’m a pretty laid back person,” Mark said. “I don’t get excited about much of anything, but I just like my sports.”
The people around Mark get excited about him. He elicits cheers when he competes in triathlons and filled multiple tables during the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet.
“He’s an amazing man,” Hlacevek said. “I don’t know where he gets the energy, but he inspires me every day.”