NORWALK, Conn. — Francesco Clark didn't set out to become renowned for overcoming adversity. But a catastrophic injury that left him a quadriplegic, combined with his refusal to be limited by his body, guided him to an unexpected path as an entrepreneur, an advocate for other's with disabilities, and an inspiration for all who meet him.
Clark was a 24-year-old with a bright future when an evening dive into a pool's shallow end changed everything.
Paralyzed from the neck down, he was told by doctors that he would never move from his bed or breathe without assistance. Upon hearing that news, the Bronxville, N.Y., resident made it his mission to prove them wrong and within days was breathing unaided. This was the start of his miraculous recovery process.
Clark's story is one of new beginnings. As a result of his injuries, he was unable to sweat and a painful skin condition developed. With the help of his father, who is a doctor, they began to mix soothing lotions with botanicals until they found they had created helpful products that not only provided relief for Clark's discomfort but would also do the same for others.
The rest is more or less history. Today, Clark's Botanicals , recipient of the 2013 Martha Stewart American-Made Award, is available at Fred Segal, CO Bigelow, QVC (where it's a top seller), and countless other retailers.
As a national ambassador for the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the author of the memoir, "Walking Papers," Clark shares his story of hope, healing, and the key ingredients to overcoming extremely difficult circumstances in both life and business in a new series launched by Norwalk-based HoooplaHa-Only Good News digital series.
In the first episode of "Stories that Inspire," premiering 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, he talks with actor, photographer, and model Mark Reay, who after going broke living the high life as a fashion photographer in the south of France, returned home to a rooftop in New York City's East Village, where he remained for the next six years.
When Clark asked what advice Reay would give others facing adversity, the actor admitted there's no "mystical cure." Instead, shares a powerful, unexpected message around how the "giving of yourself ... can lead to benefits you never expected."
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