Who is Mark Kalina Jr.?
In the fall of 2012, Mark Kalina Jr. was at the beginning of his fifth year of college at The Ohio State University. He was studying civil engineering and was busy with classes and spending time with friends. Mark was often involved in various social, fundraising, and volunteer activities during his time at Ohio State through Greek life and his job at the Ohio Union. He was a friend to anyone he met and was always willing to help others.
On the night of October 12, 2012; Mark decided to head out to downtown Columbus with some friends. When the night came to a close, Mark and a friend decided to share a cab to Grandview Heights. As this was only a short walk away from campus, Mark decided to walk the rest of the way back to his apartment. He realized that he would need to cross railroad tracks in order to make his way to campus. Instead of backtracking, walking down the street, and under a bridge where the tracks were overhead, Mark decided to cross the tracks on foot. There was a train stopped on the tracks so Mark began to walk next to the train in order to find the end and cross the tracks behind the train.
As he walked, he happened to slip on the gravel next to the train tracks and he snagged his shirt sleeve on the train. Just as this occurred, the train began to creak and shift as the engine started. The shirt would not break free and the train picked up speed. Mark had no choice but to pull himself up onto a ladder on the side of the train instead of being dragged next to it. As the train accelerated, Mark held on to the ladder and an unfortunate turn of the train sent him falling in between two train cars and landing on the connector. Mark held on tightly but his legs could not find anything to rest on and they were pulled under the quickly moving train. Mark’s entire body was pulled under the train and as that happened; his legs were severed by the wheels. Mark lay in the middle of the tracks until the train passed over him and then he pulled his phone out of his pocket to call 911.
Mark was able to get through to 911 and helped to direct a search helicopter to his location. Police officers were first on the scene and were able to pull Mark off of the tracks right before another train passed over. An ambulance arrived shortly after and Mark was quickly transported to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and immediately into surgery. Most of his injuries were sustained from the train incident as he lost his left leg above the knee, his right leg below the knee, and his right pinky finger was severely injured and later removed. Above the waist, Mark’s injuries were minimal including only a couple cuts and bruises. After surgery, Mark was awake and accepting visitors. He even held off pain medication in order to be awake enough to greet his guests as the waiting room was overflowing with concerned family, friends, and co-workers.
From that initial date, Mark has had an unwavering appreciation for life and an extremely positive attitude. He has referred to his situation as “not life ending but life changing” and he has followed that mantra throughout this transition. Mark was truly grateful for all of the support and well-wishes that he received. He chose to make something out of the struggle that he went through by creating the Mark Kalina Jr. Foundation.
Mark had always been a happy, friendly, and kind hearted person so it was no surprise that he wanted to find a way to help others who have gone through something of this nature. He was thrust into an entirely new world and he saw how difficult it could be to get the help that was needed. Mark’s daily life changed drastically. There were suddenly so many items that he needed in order to complete ordinary activities. He knew that he was lucky to have the support that he did but he also knew that others may not have those options available to them. As Mark realized there aren't many resources available for people that suffer a traumatic amputation, he chose to raise money for those in need.
Mark has been a pillar of strength for those around him throughout his recovery. He is taking that strong will and putting it towards a great cause. The Mark Kalina Jr. Foundation was born out of Mark’s own experiences through a very difficult time and the goal is to try to ease some of the burden that other families may face in the future.