Sonja Ahrens

Sonja Ahrens

My initial encounter with Mark Linder was at the 1st Annual Walk for the Mind in 2003. I had been diagnosed and treated for my brain tumor only four months earlier. Shortly before the beginning of the Walk, I remember Mark standing at the podium with sunglasses on – I’m sure covering the tears in his eyes. However, the sunglasses did not hide the emotion in his voice as he started his speech launching the first Walk. He was in awe of what he saw in front of him. His dream of finding other brain tumor survivors and raising brain tumor awareness was becoming a reality.

Creating the Walk had become his salvation. Through the years of Mark’s initial brain tumor diagnosis and treatment, he had only met one other individual in the Peoria area with a brain tumor. I can only imagine how lonely and frightening that must have been. So it was understandable that Mark’s fear was that at best, a handful of people would show that day. The reality was that through his determination and the help of the ABTA and a few friends and family, he was looking out at a group of over 200 individuals who had come to support the 1st Annual Walk for the Mind.

Through Mark creating the Walk for the Mind, I was quickly surrounded by a network of individuals who not only could relate to my recovery feelings and concerns, but also provide helpful tips to speed my recovery. Thanks to Mark, I was never in his shoes. I never had to make that journey alone.

Sonja Ahrens
Brain Tumor Survivor 2003