The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey /
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Unexpected Star Athlete

Terri M. Venesio |                                 City College student Mark Leming play soccer, baseball, basketball, golf, football and tennis, despite a birth defect.
Terri M. Venesio | [email protected] | City College student Mark Leming plays soccer, baseball, basketball, golf, football and tennis, despite a birth defect.

But something else makes him stand out

Juan De Anda | Staff Writer
[email protected]

Mark Leming has it all: social skills, athletic ability, intelligence and good looks. He is determined to become an elementary school teacher, and despite all this, the people he meets are often distracted by one thing: His arms.

They’re much shorter than yours or mine — about 26 inches long, and he only has three fingers on each hand. Because his arms are composed of one solid bone, he has no elbows.

He says there’s no name for his condition, but he’s done some research on his own to try and find the cause of his disfigurement.

“From what I have found out through research was that the water was contaminated in Arkansas, with [a] chemical that is found in Agent Orange,” Leming says. “The chemical compound is called 245T and my mom was drinking the contaminated water while she was expecting me.

This happened in 1985 but the EPA had ordered the company producing the chemical to clean it up in 1979, but the company owners didn’t do anything. [They] abandoned the country, and left the poison in Arkansas.”

Growing up, he encountered disgusted facial expressions and insulting jeers from his classmates.

“I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. I had a group of friends here and there, but the kids were mean, very mean” Leming says.
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Despite the dehumanizing ridicule and painful encounters, Leming found his refuge in sports.

“I never found my arms getting in the way of me playing sports,” Leming says. “The field was one of the only places where I was accepted as I was. I was able to show people what I could do without them judging me, and I was able to play and enjoy myself.”

City College student Eduardo Cobian remembers meeting Mark for the first time a few years ago during a soccer match.

“When I saw German [ Leming’s nickname] for the first time I thought, ‘Nah, there’s no way that guy can play soccer without regular arms,” Cobian says. “During the game he shocked all of us that he could play really good without normal-length arms.”

Leming says that he’s accustomed to seeing people surprised after he showcases his skills in any sport.

“I usually get the, “Oh my goodness, he can play that? I didn’t know he could do that,’ sort of expression or look. Inside my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Why do they think I can’t play?’ But it’s also funny because I can say I proved them wrong and showed them not to judge based on appearances.”

Leming advises anyone who wants to get to know him or about his condition to just treat him respectfully and ask.

“Treat me just like anybody else. If you have any questions just ask me politely. Most of the time, I will be willing to tell you about the condition and get the word out. If you ask instead of judge we can make the world a better understanding place.”

If given the chance to change his appearance, Leming quickly answered that he wouldn’t change anything about his life.

“I believe that God put me on this earth for a reason,” Lemming says. Everybody is made unique, and I was made unique to be this way. I may not be completely the same as everyone else, but that doesn’t matter. What really matters is that I’m a person.”

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