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Mark's Story

     “My God has shown me forgiveness and strength,

and that’s what I want to portray unto others...

God bless you.”


Mark F. Garwood



These words were the last text message the Garwood family received from Mark the day before he died on May 24, 2014 at the age of 24 ----a vibrant and energetic life extinguished all too early.  


Mark had an insatiable curiosity, a passion for life, and a loving and generous heart.  As a teen, he was diagnosed with type I diabetes, but that condition never slowed him down. He was athletic and excelled in a variety of sports.  Mark never met a stranger. He was charming and persuasive, yet genuine and sincere in all his relationships.  He loved his friends and would go to any length to counsel and assist them regardless of his own circumstances. 


In 2009 while attending college in Orlando, Mark was assaulted during a pick-up basketball game. He became addicted to the pain medications prescribed after this assault, and his life began to spiral out of control. He dropped out of school, alienated family and friends and had scrapes with the law. Mark understood he was on a destructive path and was determined to get his life back on track.  He went through detox, rehabilitation and began to actively participate in NA and AA twelve step programs.  He moved into a recovery residence and found strong spiritual and emotional support among his peers.  He secured his dream job and was on his way to a challenging and productive career before his untimely death due to complications from his addiction and diabetes. 


The Garwood family has witnessed the anxiety, frustration and desperation so many young people endure while battling addiction. They have also witnessed the hope and promise that even the smallest degree of encouragement and support fosters in individuals who are committed to finding their way out of the darkness.  


The Mark Garwood Foundation was established to honor Mark’s life by providing a way forward for young men and women who are earnestly working toward a sober and productive future.  If we can reach one individual…save one life…ease one person’s struggle back to sobriety, then Mark’s legacy will be well-served.




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Mark's favorite superhero was Batman because he didn't have super powers.  He was a regular man who used the right tools, intelligence, strength and character to triumph over the darkness.


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This 25 year old oak tree,

a traditional symbol of strength, wisdom, endurance and resiliency, was planted on what would have been Mark’s 25th birthday.

"Just as the acorn contains the mighty oak tree, the Self has everything it needs to fulfill its destiny. When the inner conditions are right, it naturally emerges."

                           Derek Rydall

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