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| Monday, Feb. 25, 2008

Mark Burkholder of Connellsville is happy that he finally found his niche in life -- working with the mentally challenged and elderly.

Originally from Mill Run, Burkholder and his family moved to Connellsville several years ago.

Burkholder, a graduate of Connellsville Area High School, attended college and studied accounting. He soon realized that number-crunching was not his forte.

Working for many years in the lumber industry, Burkholder was told seven years ago about a position opening as a resident assistant for Passavant Memorial Homes. On a whim, he applied. Now he resides every weekend with four mentally challenged men, whom he cares for, cooks for and takes on outings. Burkholder enjoys his work with the group and has taken the four to the movies, Pirates games, bowling and swimming, and is planning a trip to a museum. When he settled into his position, he found himself bored the four days that we was not at the home, so he began to work for the Caring Mission as a non-medical caregiver. Now he tends to a few elderly in the area, aiding them but allowing them to remain independent in their homes.

For fun, Burkholder loves to ride on the bike trail. He is planning a two-day trip to see how far he can ride in one day, stay overnight and then return home.

Burkholder also enjoys reading and fishing at Cranberry Lake. He collects cigarette lighters, baseball cards and can be seen scouring the roadsides of Connellsville, collecting aluminum cans. He enjoys an array of television shows, including the "Biggest Loser," various game shows and "CSI." He loves comedies or what he refers to as "stupid movies" such as "Killer Clowns from Outer Space." In his leisure time, Burkholder enjoys watching NASCAR, especially when Mark Martin is racing. He is also a Steelers fan.

Q: What was the last movie that you saw?

A: "Alvin and the Chipmunks." It was an excellent movie. I saw it twice ,and I can't wait till it comes out on video.

Q: Whom do you admire the most?

A: My father. He's never been a healthy man, and he's had asthma since he was 16. He's had so many medical problems, but he was always there.

Q: What person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?

A: Mark Martin. I like to watch him race, and he's one of the most considerate of the NASCAR drivers. He doesn't get mad and blow his temper, and he's always been an underdog.

Q: What is your favorite color?

A: Blue.

Q: What are your favorite hobbies?

A: Bike riding.

Q: What do you like the most about your job?

A: Just the satisfaction that I get knowing that I've helped someone. If I make a small difference in someone's life or help them, it's very satisfactory to me.

Q: What is your tip for leading a successful life?

A: Always do the best that you can and treat everyone in life the way that you would want to be treated.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: Spending time with my family.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: A roast with potatoes and carrots.

Q: What talent would you most like to have?

A: I'd like to be able to play the piano.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

A: My children.

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