GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As he tailgates for Thursday night’s East Carolina University football game against nationally-ranked Temple, alumnus Mark Steele experiences emotions he just can’t describe.
“If i could bottle what’s inside of me that makes me passionate about East Carolina and give it to other individuals,” Steele said. “I would be a millionaire.”
What he does give is help and advocacy for people with disabilities.
“[I’m] trying to help people with disabilities get services that they need; to be more independent,” Steele said.
It’s important for him because he has a disability; he experienced a spinal cord injury just three months into his freshman year at ECU.
He tried climbing an old goal post in a field, but he fell and landed on his head.
“I went home and I went through rehab,” Steele said. “I went to a community college at home, but I always felt like I left something undone in Greenville. There was something that pulled me back to this place.”
It was a place he later returned to get a bachelor’s in social work and a master’s in rehabilitative counseling.
“[ECU] opened up a world to me,” he said.
It’s a world he’s no giving to his lifelong friend from home, Keith Clary.
“East Carolina gets in your blood even if you’re a casual fan like myself from Winston-Salem,” Clary said.
Steele said he’s not a “fairweather fan” and supports the Pirates football team despite their loss to Temple.