Around The Bay / St. Joseph’s Healthcare Supplement

The Spectator, March 22, 2008

“Team Rocket” – Amanda and Mark are Going the Extra Mile!
By Amanda Boundris

Amanda Collis is one amazing young woman. She would tell you that her father Mark is one in a million too – if she could. But while Mark’s daughter requires constant care and is confined to a wheelchair, she has also completed the Boston Marathon – twice – ahead of her father.

Amanda was born to Mark and Rosemary Collis in 1985 with cerebral palsy that affects her speech and muscle control. Although she’s developmentally challenged, she doesn’t seem to know it herself and behaves like a regular, happy mischievous little girl. She loves music, the company of people around her and has a great sense of humour.

She’ll be out in front of her dad again – on March 30th – as he pushes her, wheelchair and all, 30K in the Around the Bay Road Race for the fifth year in a row.

Mark runs because he enjoys the personal challenge of racing and the camaraderie of fellow runners. His reasons for running with Amanda are equally as simple: “I do it because I like doing things with my children and running is something that I can share with her. I do not feel that I’m doing anything special at all. For me, it’s really not a big deal, it’s just time spent with my family.”

Mark says that though she can’t say it in words, Amanda’s smile, eyes and reactions explain why she likes to run: She runs with her dad, simply because it’s fun.

Several years ago, Mark stumbled upon the Hawaii Ironman Triathalon broadcast. He describes watching the performance of “Team Hoyt”, Dick and Rick Hoyt, as his inspiration for getting out and running with Amanda. Rick is Dick’s son and suffers from a similar developmental disability to Amanda. The father-and-son duo from Boston compete in marathon and triathalon events in much the same way that Mark and Amanda race. “As we were inspired through the example of others, in turn we strive to inspire,” says Mark.

They began racing as “Team Rocket” after nicknaming Amanda’s first racing wheelchair – a beautiful, shiny red and black Jogger – “The Rocket.”

Amanda is the middle child and adores her older brother Adam and younger sister Lauren. Mark is also heavily involved with his other two children’s activities: Scouting, Tae Kwon-do and biking with Adam; biking, computer games, performing songs and canoeing with Lauren. Mark believes Amanda shouldn’t be treated any differently just because she has a few more challenges in life. “Spending time and doing things with your children is simply part of being a good parent,” he reasons.

Fixtures in the Hamilton/Burlington area running scene, Mark and Amanda train with the Burlington Runners Club and the Foot Tools Run Club, also out of Burlington.

Last year they had their best finish in Around the Bay – finishing the 30k in 2:26:56, earning Amanda a silver finisher’s medal.

Learning of their story, it’s clear they have already gone the extra mile, and will go a few more on March 30.

To find out more about Mark and Amanda’s journey, visit