The Man Behind the Scenes

In pageants, a common question I get asked is, “who is your role model?”

Of course, my parents are AMAZING and have set a great example of how a family should function, how a married couple should love and respect one another and how to navigate through the tough decisions of life.

BUT, there is another man in my life who I look up to and hold in the highest regards.

Markshane became part of my life, just about 2 years ago. At the end of June 2014, I met Markshane and he became my personal trainer. When I started with him, I had no muscle mass, had only been walking again for just under a year and weighed 96 pounds. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “how could someone you met 2 years ago be your role model? And what could your personal trainer have taught you that enables him to be so influential in your life?”

Well, Markshane is more than my personal trainer.

Markshane is the type of person that gives more than he takes. He grew up in a small town in Alabama, and an anonymous donor paid for him to receive a private education. Even to this day, Markshane has no idea who the donor was, but not a day goes by that he isn’t appreciative for that stranger’s act of kindness.

Every single day, Markshane greets everyone with a smile (me by picking me up and giving me a big hug & a kiss on the head), goes out of his way to go above and beyond for others and always has a positive attitude.

Of course, due to his appreciation for the anonymous donation to his education, he ensures that he is always paying it forward through big acts of kindness. But, what I admire most about him, are the small acts of kindness he carries out daily; simply out of love, with no expectation of compensation or reward.

Markshane and I got extremely close, extremely fast. Basically, he plays the role of a 2nd father figure to me, and I tend to feel like an adopted daughter of his own.

At every workout, Markshane would ask how school was going, about my friend life, about pageants, about who I was going on a date with that weekend…and he would remember every name and detail in every story. Better yet, he would go to my monumental school events, charity runs and pageants to support me. The best part is, he would wear purple, my favorite color, and we would wear matching outfits, to the last workout before a pageant. Furthermore, Markshane would sternly shake the hand of my dance dates, just to ensure they knew who the real man in my life, out of the 2 of them, was.

My favorite moment of millions of Markshane memories, was the night of senior prom. Markshane had comforted me when I didn’t think I was going to be asked, seen the dress I bought, smiled and listened to the long story of my prom-posal and patiently sat with me while I talked through all of my pre and post prom plans.

My phone rang 30 minutes before I was supposed to meet my date for pictures, and it was Markshane.

Markshane had called me just to tell me to have fun at my senior prom & that he was sure I looked beautiful and that he couldn’t wait to hear all about it.

Amongst other memories, of him at my high school graduation, our countless BJ’s lunch dates, him cheering louder than every person in the audience at my pageant & walking side by side at a charity 5K, our relationship today is stronger than ever.

When I left for college, Markshane and I were both reluctant to say goodbye. We saw each other at least 2 times a week, early morning and afternoons, we talked almost 5 days a week, and I could meet him for lunch whenever he had a free schedule. Now, with me being half way across the country, a phone call is the best thing we’ve got.

We talk every 2 weeks on the phone for about 30-40 minutes each call. We text intermittently in between calls to send pictures and updates on our lives and families.  We meet up for our regular BJ’s lunch whenever I am home for break and catch up on lost time.

By simply being present, Markshane imprints an enormous positive impact in my life. One he isn’t even aware he is making.

Markshane was the 3rd person I called after I got my first college acceptance, just after my parents and grandparents. He is the person I call when I’m crying and need a pick me up, or when I am excited about an accomplishment.

The thing is, Markshane is the most humble human being I have ever known. He shows his commitment to every individual in his life by unconditionally loving and accepting them for their authentic self. He genuinely cares and is interested in the lives of others and willingly sacrifices anything to ensure the happiness of someone else.

A 30-40 minute phone call every other week, a carved out 2 hour time frame for lunch dates, an hour drive to watch me walk on stage and compete; these are the little things he does for me. And these little things inspire me to strive to be as selfless and appreciative as he is.

Markshane, you have helped guide me to become an independent, confident, strong and appreciative young lady. You have demonstrated to me the importance of investing in others, sacrifice, diligence and self-respect; which in turn, has enabled me to become a better version of myself. You have encouraged me to stay true to myself and my values, even in a tough environment, like college. You’ve told me not to change because you love and are proud of the girl I am. You have sparked my love of giving back and serving others, whether they are less fortunate or just someone who needs a friend. You have pushed me to chase my dreams & accomplish the things I had set limitations on due to self-doubt. You have been a phenomenal example that actions speak louder than words & shown me that hard work, truly does pay off.  Thank you, for loving me, caring about me, investing in me, supporting me and inspiring me to strive to be a fraction of the admirable and exemplary person you are. 

Markshane’s integrity is shamelessly and flawlessly executed daily. He genuinely cares about my life away from home. Heck, he even made sure to thoroughly background check Danny (my current boyfriend) before giving his approval & he made sure to make it known that, Danny can take care of me in Texas, but in California, I’m all taken care of & all his.  (He still has to officially approve Danny in person this weekend at my pageant, though). He makes time to call me on holidays or call me immediately when I leave him a voicemail where you can’t understand a word I am saying because I am crying so hard.

Most of all, he values my life, my experiences and my endeavors just as his own.

He doesn’t have to call me every other week, or show up at my pageants, or even meet me for lunch dates. I pay him for his (amazing) service to help me stay fit; not to be my friend. But, that is just who he is. He is a kind-hearted, selfless, compassionate, accepting, loving person. He exercises his love for life, Christ & his wife and daughter, Savannah, every moment he is blessed with.

He is a person I am proud to say I know, proud to love, and proud to call my family.



Markshane, Savannah & I at my graduation.



The first time we coincidentally matched, head to toe, lead to a pre-pageant tradition!


He drove over an hour at 7 am to walk a 5K with me!


A year prior, I finished this walk with my feeding tube. This time, I finished with a crown & a man who means the world to me.


My transformation from sick to fit, thanks to Markshane!


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