Mark Donnelly has been singing the Canadian Anthem at NHL hockey games for so long, he is simply known as "Mr. O Canada".
Born and raised in Vancouver, Mark received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of British Columbia. After further studies in California and Montreal, and during the years he was engaged as a singer, conductor, and teacher in northeastern Pennsylvania, he began performing the national anthems for the Pittsburgh Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre. Mark moved back to Canada in 2000, and started singing for the NHL Vancouver Canucks. It was in the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs that he first tried what became his signature move of holding the microphone to the crowd, encouraging them to sing along. As Mark says, "I don't sing the anthem for you, I sing it with you."
Married and the father of nine children, Mark spent most of his childhood and adult life struggling with his weight. Just before his fiftieth birthday, and tipping the scale at 370 pounds, he realized that if he didn't do something about his 62 inch waist, he wouldn't see his two year old son, Gregory, graduate from high school. After years of trying almost every diet available, he was at wits' end. Not having the resources to pay for a trainer or a pricey nutrition program, he was desperate, until his wife, Catherine, checked out from the library a book which revived a controversial diet from the 1950's. Armed with this weight loss protocol (which most doctors are convinced does not work) and an unquenchable desire to share in his son's future academic milestone, Mark embarked on a journey most people would consider a pipe dream: at the age of fifty, to lose 185 pounds (half his body weight)! What about his voice? "I didn't care," Mark says without hesitation. "I'm not going to be singing any operas if I'm six feet under!"
As the weight quickly melted away, Mark acquired another dream: to play goal in ice hockey again. Developing his own training regimen, this dream became a reality less than two years after his "Gregory decision"! In July of 2012, Mark reached his target weight; more importantly, Mark has kept it off, though not without further trials and struggles. He has since become an avid (some say fanatical) squash player.
Today Mark inspires audiences with his story, and encourages people struggling with weight, or other seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to keep looking for a solution. His message: giving up is not an option!
- Half the Man, Twice the Life!
In this inspiring keynote presentation, Mark shares his personal journey from a life of obesity to one of health and vitality. With the rise of childhood obesity and late onset (Type 2) diabetes, Mark is passionate about motivating old and young alike to find or resume energetic activities that they really love. "Remember: To be fully human, you must never give up; and with a dream that is truly and specifically yours, you can achieve your goals!"