By J.T. Russell, Contributing Writer
“We just love the people and the atmosphere. Everyone is so nice to us. I mean, who doesn’t like going to McKendree games? It’s our favorite thing to do.” This is a quote from 29 year old Mark Junior Reinacher. Mark is part of a tenacious tag team duo with his twin brother, Robert Lee Reinacher. Together, they are, (cue in John Williams’ Superman Score), McKendree’s Biggest Fans.
Before Mark and Robert became widely recognized by the Lebanon community as McKendree super fans, the twins could be found roaming the halls of O’Fallon high school. “I loved high school.” says Mark. “Playing volleyball and basketball during P.E. was fun, but talking to all the girls was my favorite.” After high school, Mark and Robert moved down to Carbondale, IL, for a short period before making their way up to their current home of Lebanon, IL, where they have now lived for ten years. When asked what their favorite thing about Lebanon was, the brothers had the same response: the people and the University of McKendree.
McKendree holds a special place in the brothers’ hearts, but for a reason most are not aware of. On January 27th, 2015, Robert was riding his bicycle home from his job at Cedar Ridge Health and Rehab Center, when he was hit by a vehicle. The accident resulted in a broken C7 vertebra, a left leg fracture, a broken right leg, a broken right foot and toe, and ten broken ribs. The accident left Robert in critical condition, and left Mark in emotional distress. “I could have lost my life” says Robert.
When asked about the incident, Mark’s demeanor becomes very serious and heartfelt. “I could have lost my brother. He just kept telling me he wanted to come home, but I told him he had to stay in the hospital until he was better.” Mark explains that with a lot of prayer and financial help from donations collected by the University, Robert made a full recovery. “The University really saved us.” Mark says, “We are very grateful.” In addition to the donations, the community started a GoFundMe page to raise money to not only replace Robert’s bicycle, but supply both the brothers with new, safe bicycles, complete with reflective gear so they can be seen at night.
Aside from attending any and all McKendree Sporting Events, Mark and Robert live very interesting lives and are distinguished workers. Mark works at Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain and Grill on West Saint Louis Street in Lebanon, while Robert works at Cedar Ridge Health and Rehab Center. When they are not at work, they enjoy playing games such as Need for Speed Shift and Call of Duty on their Xbox 360. “I have beat all three Guitar Hero games” says Robert. When asked who is better at video games, they both responded by saying themselves.
Mark enjoys being active, playing basketball and sand volleyball on occasion. Mark says, “I can bench 290 pounds, I’m a pretty strong guy, not many people know that.” Mark also enjoys a wide array of music, ranging from Bon Jovi to Snoop Dogg. Upon discussing the opposite sex, it becomes apparent that both the brothers are ladies men. Robert is currently in a relationship, and Mark is reaching out to find that special one he can treat just right. “I love talking to girls, I just have to find the right one.”
Both Mark and Robert would love to attend McKendree, but they say it simply isn’t in the budget right now. Robert’s long term goal is to get a culinary degree so that he can become a chef. He loves to cook, as well as eat. Mark has always wanted to become a coach, preferably for McKendree. He says, “Any sport really, football, basketball, baseball, any sport I can be a part of. McKendree gave us passes for all the home games though, so I’m okay with that right now.”
While both twins have big aspirations, right now they are more than happy to be a part of the McKendree community. Usually in small towns, only the sheriff and Jesus get the kind of love that the Reinacher boys receive in their beloved town of Lebanon. If you run into Mark or Robert at a game or while they’re riding their bikes down College Road, don’t hesitate to go up and give them a hug or a high five. They’ll appreciate it, just as they appreciate you as a part of their community and their home.