Diabetic Knoxville firefighter told he can't be trusted with others' lives battles back

By: Ted Hall - Email
By: Ted Hall - Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It would be easy to think Mark Lane is living the sweet life: A part time job as an instructor at Cross Fit K-Town helping people get into shape and a full time job helping people in crisis as a Knoxville Firefighter.

But when the family motto is a bible verse about adversity, you know that too much of anything, even sweetness, isn't good.

"In the book of James it says, 'Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds,'" Samantha Lane, Mark's wife, quoted James 1:2, thinking about her husband.

Mark faces trials. He chose a life serving, but while in the air force was told he wasn't fit.

"I knew all the symptoms of diabetes," Mark said. "I just ignored it."

When he was 24, Mark found out he was a diabetic, labeled a disabled veteran he had to leave the service.

"He went through a phase where he didn't engage much," Samantha remembered. "He just sat down and dealt with it."

For 3 years, Mark basically wallowed, just taking an occasional class.
Hoping to serve others, he really wanted to be a firefighter. Mark applied in Blount County, but that dream was shot down when the doctor told him, 'I can't put other peoples lives in your hands when you can't control your own.'

Depression hit. "Some of the depression came in the second and third year after being diagnosed, I was going back to school for something I didn't want; I had to, because I couldn't get the job I wanted".

The danger of an insulin-dependent diabetic serving in the Air Force or fire department is without controlling his blood sugar he could collapse and the result could cost a life.

So Mark took control. Helped by his wife, he changed his life -- healthy food and lots of exercise -- so much exercise he became a fitness instructor. It worked.

Six years after getting booted from the Air Force, two years after Blount County said he was too dangerous, Knoxville hired him to help.

"It was awesome," Mark smiled when he thought about opening the letter that confirmed he got the job. "Like one of those college acceptance things where you hope it says what you want it to."

Imagine only wanting to help others with your life, but being told that you aren't good enough to help. What would you do? What Mark Lane did? Sweet.

"This is where I need to be, something I wanted my whole life."


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