Bloomington/Normal a Hidden Camelot (Part 3)

Even though in some circles chivalry may be dead, it is alive and well in the twin towns of BloNo. Meet Mark Hopping. He was born and raised in Bloomington. He has known local artist Jeff Bess since first grade. Here is his story.


Once upon a time not too long ago there was a man who held the chair of Vice Presidency of a corporation. Everyday our man would put on his suit and go fight the corporate world while supporting a family. Thirty years pass by. Our man now has gone through two marriages and three children. He takes up running marathons to release the day to day stress his job mandates.

One day he decides he wants to quit. Call it a mid-life crisis. Call it a corporate burn out. Call it what you will. He deliberates and thinks about this for a while. It can not be a rash decision.

One day a big race is coming up and he makes a bet with himself that he will beat the three hours and thirty minutes which is the normal time to beat a marathon if someone is thinking of qualifying for the pinnacle of races; The Boston Marathon. Our man says to himself, "If I beat this next race in three hours and 20 minutes, I will quit my job!" And so he sets out that day to run the marathon and he ended up quitting his job because not only did he beat his bet, he did so by two minutes.


Photo by Menendez of Mark Hopping walking two of his rescued dogs.

Photo by Menendez of Mark Hopping walking two of his rescued dogs.

Mark Hopping has run the Boston Marathon five times. He was entered but he decided not to run that fateful day when the world stood still.  He says to me, "Didi my wife would have been standing right there where the bomb went off".

Silence took over our conversation as I took photos of Mark's dog. 

After Mark left the corporate world, he took up working as an assistant in physical education of a local grade school and is currently a part-time cross country coach at Blackburn College.

Mark is also a talented musician. He learned to play the piano as a child. He spends once a week babysitting his grandchildren and plays the guitar and sings to them. He is also a poet.

Mark is not alone. Many of the residents of BloNo are fighting their own battles being that of a personal nature or not. One thing I've learned from getting out of social media's presence and talking and photographing my neighbors instead is that they all have a story to tell and they all stoically but nobly end up winning in the end by following their heart.