We're raising money to help check two things off Mark's bucket list -- his dream of owning a muscle car and driving it down Route 66! Please read his story and keep it a SURPRISE.
His name is Mark Olsen, aka Ole, to the folks at Oakley. Mark had his entire life changed back in 1985 when, as a college graduate, he managed a little auto detail business in Laguna Niguel, CA. Why? Because one of his regular customers was a guy named Jim Jannard. Sharing a mutual love for motocross (Mark raced moto for about 15 years), they struck up a friendship and before he knew it, Jim was offering him an in-house sales gig for his start-up company called Oakley.
After a few iterations, Mark wound-up a road warrior, selling the fledgling product line up and down the state of California, targeting the new optometry channel and getting it off the ground. He believed in the product, even back when the pickins’ were pretty slim, and over many, many years of relentless energy and hours spent, he got the brand up and running throughout the state.
What fueled him was an absolute love for the company--what it stood for, its mission, and its people. On this planet there is only one Oakley and he was so proud to be a part of the excitement of presenting it, sharing it, demonstrating it to anyone who would give him a few minutes. He has often said that Oakley runs through his blood. No doubt, Oakley is a significant component of the man he has become. What a perfect match for Mark Olsen, a company that values the things he is passionate about; sports and the products that impact performance in the sport.
In May 2013, Mark received a terrible blow that would ultimately become life-altering. After participating in a mountain bike race in Santa Barbara, he started feeling flu-like symptoms. Eventually, the unrelenting symptoms landed him in the hospital where he was diagnosed with CMML leukemia, a very rare form of the disease. About a month later, his diagnosis was changed to MDS (a bone marrow disease) and he returned to work and his normal activities. But in September 2013 this insidious disease morphed once again, this time into the deadly AML (acute leukemia). Without intervention he would have lived only a few weeks. Instead, after undergoing two rounds of chemo and then a stem cell transplant using his brother’s stem cells, he had a 40% chance of survival. Sadly, on February 28, 2014, he was given the grim news that the stem cell transplant had failed, and there is nothing more the medical community can do for him. It was an absolutely devastating blow.
So after we cried our cycle of tears, Mark decided to forge ahead with a bucket list. We don’t know how long he has got on this Earth, but with literally thousands of people praying for him daily, we are confident that he will be allowed to complete his list. At the top of the list is his wish to finally get his dream car—a classic Chevy, in which to embark on the second entry of the bucket list, a trip on Route 66. After that we have several other little jaunts planned over the next few months. As in everything he does, he stays focused on the positive, always ready with that signature smile, to approach his next goal.
After more than 28 years, Mark had to resign his position as outside sales rep for South Orange County and San Diego a few weeks ago. It just about killed him to give up his territory and he actually grieved for days after. Oakley is in his blood forever, whether he is slinging a bag or just watching from the sidelines. At the moment his energy and focus must be on regaining his health as he battles this monster. But not a minute goes by that he isn’t feeling a little rudderless without his beloved job—being out on the road in his minivan, seeing all his treasured accounts, and just wanting to make them all happy.
THAT is who Ole is.
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