Change Text Size: A | A | A
National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:
VMI

7,709
Votes

MARK AYERS

OLIVE BRANCH, MS

Entry Photo for MARK AYERS - OLIVE BRANCH, MS

After serving seven years in the Army National Guard, Mark Ayers had settled down in the quiet Mississippi town of Olive Branch as a police officer. After four years, Mark had promoted to FTO (Field Training Officer), making his way up the chain of command. He had high aspirations of following this career path, climbing the ladder to reaching his full potential.

On June 29, 2006, his life changed. Mark was riding with rookie officer Doug Stanek when at 4:40 am when they performed a routine traffic check on a vehicle parked outside a recently burglarized business. As Stanek approached the vehicle, the driver began shooting and Stanek was hit. Ayers got out of his patrol car and was shot as well, taking two bullets. He had two collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver, but the most traumatic injury, a fracture to his spinal cord at the T3 level.

Mark was flown to the Regional Medical Center (Memphis, TN) before being taken by plane to Shepherd Center (Atlanta, GA) on July 18. After approximately ten weeks, Mark was discharged from inpatient treatment to attend “day treatment” that would focus on “functional return of skills necessary for community reintegration.”

In January of 2007, despite all odds, Mark returned to the Olive Branch Police Department as a detective. He promotes safety and awareness for the citizens and shows a diligence in his work duties that are surpassed by none. He is a hero and pillar to the community in which he serves. He has overcome impossible obstacles, persevered, and inspired us all. He is involved with every community outreach program and takes a personal interest in all fundraising projects.

How has he brought awareness to the need for mobility? Last year, when the contest was ongoing, Mark only became aware of it with three weeks left of voting. In three weeks, the troops rallied to the extent of ten thousand votes, reaching the top 12% of contestants. A whole community of police, firefighters, EMS, community leaders, media, and citizens learned just how important mobility is. He doesn’t hide his limitations, but wears them as a badge of courage and honor, then overcomes them. His “limitations” are only the obstacles he has overcome or will overcome, continuing to inspire all. Mark put his life on the line for his country, community, and “brother in blue” and came out a hero.