2015 Never Quit Challenge 300 - Interview with Mark Zambon

February 27-28th, 2015 Lake Havasu, Arizona, USA

The Never Quit Challenge is a Jet Ski Program for combat wounded and veterans, Gold Star Family members of our Memorial Program and for volunteers to come together under challenging adventures that present hardships and teamwork as one unified front. The Never Quit Challenge 300 was held during the Hot Products Mark Hahn 300 Memorial PWC race held at Lake Havasu, Arizona. It is an extreme PWC team endurance race that allows for 2 racers, 1 boat and a fully loaded pit crew to assist the Veterans on their pit stops for refueling or rider exchange.

Mark Zambon
Staff Sergeant USMC Ret. Explosive Ordnance Disposal-United States Marine Corps

Mark Zambon served 11 years in the U.S Marine Corps, deploying to combat on 6 occasions and surviving 5 enemy explosive blasts. In 2012, a year and a half after he lost his legs to buried Taliban bomb, he stood on top of Africa’s Mt Kilimanjaro and buried the dog tags of two fellow Marine EOD Technicians atop the mountain. After completing his recovery in April 2013 he reported for duty as a high risk instructor, Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin AFB, FL. Here, he taught US and foreign military’s bomb technicians in the craft of bomb disposal and became the first EOD Technician to return to duty after losing both legs. Mark lives in San Diego with his wife Marta and is pursuing studies in the violin, piano and creative writing.

Your NQC 300 role defined

I fulfilled a pit crew role with the NQC at the Mark Hahn 300 memorial Personal Water Craft race. My scope of duties consisted of assisting in refueling, setting and maintaining the landing area, providing drink and food to the racers during pit stops and general motivation. 
I was expecting a team that had not had the chance to mesh to dial things up to the hot burner and commit their best to create a successful event. The team performed well beyond my expectations and operated as a well-oiled and grooved machine, providing pit support to many times more racers then pro pit-support team’s support. Consummately bad ass, served with a smile.

What fueled you?

As per pre-race instruction of "chow on ones' own" my teammate Dan Shankle and I brought our own food and beverages. That the team provided further made sure the pit support crew was not without proper sustenance.

Dealer 54 Pit Crew: How would you define your team?

No-nonsense, gung-ho--committed to seeing the event a success.

Was there any significant moment that stood out where you believed something strong shifted for you?

After the race start and first race boat of 7 arrived for refuel, the sense of duties and responsibilities seemed to gel. From this point improvements were made as needed.

Was there a defining moment that you noticed where everything clicked?

When multiple boats arrived at once for pit services. The neighboring pit team allowed use of their teams' services and expectations for highest pit crew service demands were fulfilled. At this point, the greatest pit service demands of the race occurred under normal conditions (save medical evacuation) were realized and things seemed to "click".

What do you believe is unique about the Phoenix Patriot Foundation Jet Ski Program?

That we race and succeed with beaten down and battered teams! Lol. We set an example of perseverance and resiliency for others. We demonstrated honor for those men that have given their last breath for our privilege to be alive and a citizen of our great nation.

How would you describe the NQC 300?

A chance to commit to a daring, exhausting challenge that may only be seen through by exemplary teamwork and selfless commitment. Also subscribing to commit one's best in-kind to the tireless and uncompromising work ethos of Ms. Shawn Alladio "Hellwoman". Which for most folk allows them to step out of their comfort zones, creating the opportunity for personal growth.

Did you feel you and your efforts were appreciated?

Yes, I saw direct cause and effect of my efforts even as a double amputee in the pit crew as lending effectiveness to the team's success. A badass assembly of a team that within its' self-recognized the importance of our respective individual contribution. All the love Kawasaki!! Phoenix Patriot Foundation-- thank you for paving the way for the NCQ to demonstrate the indomitable strength of our people.

Who We Are

Teamwork and competition are fundamentals of connecting to a greater purpose than one's own in life and also having a badass time. Super fun jumping on Shawn's PPF racing ship and letting it all hang out with the team. Thank you for your endurance effort to pull this off Shawn and biggest thanks to our good friends that gave their young lives in defense of our nation. It is our fierce pride to honor their lives through our own.