Mark Lichtle is 55 years old and has enjoyed extreme sports his entire life.
He was born on March 26th 1959 in the San Francisco Bay Area and became very athletic at a young age. He earned the nick-name Monkey for his agility in climbing through the neighborhood trees.
During high school at Pinole Valley High Mark became a champion pole vaulter in his sophomore year earning 12 first place finishes in 13 meets, he also broke 8 school records during that same season. In his senior year with most of his classes already completed Mark took his father’s advice and began taking real estate classes and ended up passing his real estate exam before graduating to become the youngest real estate agent in California.
After spending a few years selling real estate in the small town of Pinole Mark decided to move on and accepted a position as Account Executive with Citibank in San Rafael and became the youngest mortgage banker in the company. After four successful years with Citibank Mark grew weary of the corporate world and decided to take a chance on a young fledgling company called First Security Loan Corporation also located in San Rafael. The owners of the company had sought to hire Mark for over a year and he finally accepted a position as a mortgage broker.
During his free time Mark enjoyed a variety of sports, snow skiing, scuba diving, off road motorcycle riding as well as Jet skiing. Every free weekend Mark was out doing something. Lobster diving off the coast of Santa Barbara was especially fun. A group of eight guys would load into their motorhome and travel to Santa Barbara and spend three days at sea searching for California Spinney Lobster, abalone and scallops. On the trip home the bathroom was filled with seafood.
After eight successful years as a loan broker Mark and a friend decided to make a skydive at
Skydance Skydiving in Davis California. The thrill of falling at 120 mph along with the challenge
of building intricate formations in the sky was unbelievably exhilarating, and Mark was hooked.
Today Mark has made over 3,500 skydives and earned several world records along the way
including a jump in Chicago with 264 other skydivers all in formation.
After about 250 skydives a jumper friend asked Mark if he would like to make a BASE jump with
him off of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Mark was hesitant at first but said yes, but he only
wanted to do it once and that was all. Since then Mark has made nearly 400 BASE jumps from all
over the world.
Somewhere around two hundred BASE jumps Mark broke his ankle after encountering turbulent
winds on landing. It was a nasty break but it healed quickly and Mark was back jumping in just
After 10 years the ankle developed arthritis and so Mark sought the help of medical experts from all over the United States. Several attempts were made to fix the ankle but nothing worked. He eventually put his sports career on hold as the pain was terrible and something had to be done. His only options at the time were a fusion or replace the ankle. Fusions can cause a whole host of other medical issues so Mark chose to have an ankle allograph, which is basically an ankle transplant using parts from a donor. Unfortunately the doctor broke the donor ankle during surgery while trying to install it. The ankle never worked.
Mark was upset because the doctor told him right in his office that the entire ankle was FDA approved. And to make matters worse, the screws that weren’t supposed to be used in the first place were too long and had intersected the cuboid bone causing intense pain when trying to walk. The doctors remedy for this was to fuse the cuboid joint. He couldn’t remove the screws as they were designed to go in and not be removed. Although upset Mark felt he had no choice but to go along with this plan.
Mark’s ankle collapsed and he was faced with two difficult choices, fuse the ankle and still suffer or amputate the leg and live life with a prosthetic. Mark chose the amputation and never looked back.
Anxious to recover Mark accepted his new prosthetic with enthusiasm but it wouldn’t be easy.
Mark then flew to Florida to have a titanium ankle installed. The doctor had already replaced the ankle of a friend so Mark thought this was a good option. But no luck, the doctor installed the ankle in a skewed position and after ten months of non-weight-bearing the ankle never healed and the pain continued. While seriously considering a fusion Mark heard about a revolutionary new ankle developed by a local doctor in Berkeley, California. The ankle supposedly solved many of the problems of all the other titanium ankles. Mark visited the doctor who developed the ankle and was shown the ankle. It looked amazing and the doctor told Mark that he has already installed the ankle in over 200 people with 100 percent success. The doctor also told Mark that he was a perfect candidate to the ankle. Excited about the prospect of walking pain free again Mark signed up for the surgery, and a nightmare began. While looking at x-rays after the surgery Mark noticed that there were screws in the Talus bone of his ankle. This didn’t make sense because the ankle that the doctor showed Mark didn’t use screws which was one of its major facets. When Mark asked the doctor about this the doctor said that the FDA wouldn’t allow him to install that portion of his titanium ankle.