Our beloved angel Mark was born August 9, 1960 in Kansas City, Missouri to George and Carol Schardt. Mark was diagnosed immediately with Downs Syndrome, and with the encouragement and help of his parents, family, teachers, friends and caregivers, overcame many obstacles in his life. As a baby, Mark inspired his father to write his Masters Degree thesis at USC on the TV Viewing Habits of Mentally Retarded Children vs. Normal Children.
When Mark was 4 yrs old, he entered a pre-school program in Billings, Montana. Upon moving back to LA in 1966, Mark attended various school programs. At 9 years old, Mark became a resident of Home of Guiding Hands in Lakeside near San Diego. As a family, we spent many years traveling to San Diego to visit him and enjoying the many entertainment venues in the area together.
Mark made great strides, graduating from El Cajon High School. In 1984, he moved to Villa Esperanza in Pasadena, where he lived in a number of residential homes, worked in various programs, thrived on participating in Special Olympics, and became quite an artist. He was a friend to all of the residents and employees of Villa. With a big smile, Mark was always eager to extend his hand to introduce himself to anyone, whether at church or in the community. Mark loved attending church, loved watching Jack Hayford on TV, and had he not been born with DS, he most certainly would have become a preacher like his Grandfather Schardt and other family ministers.
In recent years, Mark overcame health issues with the help of many dedicated staff from Villa and Peoples Care. But none of us were prepared for the devastation of a stroke Mark suffered in September. Mark’s strong desire to go home from the hospital helped him work hard to walk without assistance, and with rehab, he regained usage of his left arm.
Thanksgiving was always a special holiday for Mark, and our family enjoyed having him home in Calabasas this past Thanksgiving for an overnight stay. His birthday, however, was always his most special celebration, and Mark would start talking about his birthday eight months before the actual date, always asking for balloons. Because of his love for balloons, we are celebrating his life by sharing balloons with you today.
A recent stroke after Thanksgiving was more than Mark could overcome and he went to be with our Heavenly Father on December 8. All of us, his family and extended family, will miss our angel’s unconditional love and smile.
Mark is survived by his mother Carol; sister Michelle Schardt; nieces Seta and Sidra; stepdad Tom Vandenberg; step-grandmother Lou Felderman; his aunts Marge Felderman and Norma Pratho; and numerous cousins