NEW ORLEANS - This is a story of love and determination. It begins with a mother's love for her son in the wake of a life-changing accident in 2016.
Mark Raymond Jr.'s boating accident was only three short years ago, and it's taken a lot of hard work and support to move forward.
Through fierce determination, his mother Ronda Raymond helps her son through each day.
"It's work,” Mark Raymond said. “Every day she's got to wake up to make sure I'm good, I'm taken care of. Get me out the bed, get me dressed, get ready for the day, and without her I can't doing anything that I'm doing.”
Ronda Raymond says that her maternal instincts kicked in even though the prognosis for Mark's recovery was grave.
“He wasn't even awake but I was talking to him as if he were,” she said. “One of the things that I kept saying is I know we can do this together. At that point mom kicked in because I knew that I could take care of my baby.”
Take care she did, and today Mark Raymond has accomplished a lot.
He serves as a commissioner advocating for the disabled at the RTA, but his journey to help others began with a visit to a fitness center in Sacramento.
“When I traveled to California, that place completely changed my perception about my injury, because now I had a room full of people like me working out, constantly recovering and just pushing themselves,” he said. “It was conversation, it was laughter, it was a community of people who understood what you were going through and weren't afraid to talk about it.”
Mark and Ronda have come together to spread love in the form of the Split Second Foundation.
Their goal is to open a similar fitness center here in New Orleans to address the thousands of folks living and recovering with these injuries.
“We have an upcoming event which is Dependance Day which is our annual event, and with that we're hoping to raise those funds to make this a reality,” Ronda Raymond said.
The second annual Dependence Day Gala will be held at Generations Hall on June 28.
DJ Raj Smoove, The Soul Rebels, and Big Sam's Funky Nation are all scheduled to perform.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit splitsecondfoundation.org.