As we shared last week, Mark Weingard felt the terrible pain of loss at the tender age of ten when his dad was killed in a car accident just nine days before the Dad’s 36th birthday. This incident had such a strong impact on Mark’s life that he actually believed he would lose his own life at the age of 35. This belief caused Mark to push himself much harder than most, driving him to become a millionaire city trader before the age of 30. While Mark went on to cheat death a few times, he has managed to live past 35, and despite losing loved ones along the way, he continues to thrive. We read about Mark’s first two strikes with death last week, the first when he was late for a meeting at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the next when he lost hid girlfriend during another terrorist attack in Bali.
Third Strike on Boxing Day
Then two years later, in 2004, Mark woke up on Boxing Day to huge waves rushing in on his beach home in Phuket. He lost everything he had inside the house, but he and seventeen others managed to survive by climbing onto his roof. After suffering and surviving so much loss, Mark decided to start giving back. He set up a foundation in honor of Linden, which is now known as the Inspirasia Foundation. He told EVA, “As is sat on top of the roof, I just looked up to the sky and wondered, “Now what am I supposed to do?” I decided to take a month off and work on the relief efforts in Phuket and dedicate even more of my time to my charitable work.”
Living Life, Giving Back
Since 2004, Mark has invested in many different companies and donated over ten million dollars to projects in Thailand, India, and Indonesia. These projects support education, rehabilitation, and health. On the 10th anniversary of the bombing, 2012, Mark also opened the Annika Linden Centre, a luxurious beach-side retreat where his home in Phuket once stood, which features a clinic for stroke victims, a kindergarten class for kids with cerebral palsy, and a workshop for prosthetics. He later changed the name to the Inspirasia Foundation.
According to EVA, “Inspirasia focuses on education and disability projects in Indonesia, Thailand, and India, and funds several NGO’s including Puspadi (which makes prostheses and distributes wheelchairs). Eight-five percent of the staff at Puspadi are disabled. Inspirasia also includes YPK that has a stroke-victim centre and runs a school for children with cerebral palsy. The Foundation has donated more than $10 million to 13 educational health and rehabilitation programs in three countries. “The core of the foundation is to create light from darkness,” says Weingard.”
Speaking of all he has lost and the close brushes with death, Mark says, “I realize that I’ve been very lucky in my life in so many ways and so that’s partly what had made me want to give something back.”
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