NCAA honors Market District chef as frontline hero

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By Ashleigh Swan

A Carmel Market District chef has been selected as a NCAA Final Four Frontline Hero for his dedication to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Tunnell, 68, was nominated for the award by his wife, Charlotte Fisher, who submitted a letter about Tunnell’s experiences at work. In her letter of recommendation to the NCAA, Fisher wrote that Tunnell is “a 68-year-old, multi-racial man who is considered ‘high-risk’ for COVID-19 due to his age and ethnicities.”

“She felt like I was going above and beyond,” Tunnell said.

Since the pandemic started, Tunnell has not missed a day of work. Tunnell said he felt confident in his health and safety working during a pandemic as long as he followed guidelines such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

“I thought it’s like anything else in life, we will get through it, I will get through it and if it takes a while, that’s OK,” he said.

Tunnell is one of the many individuals being recognized by the NCAA and the Indy Sports Corp for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic. Each honoree received a surprise visit from an NCAA representative to show appreciation.

For Tunnell, the surprise was huge.

“Everyone was telling me to put on a clean jacket. I thought we were taking a group picture,” he said.

When Tunnell saw his wife, brother and some of the representatives from the NCAA at the store, he was shocked.

“It was a nice surprise,” he said.

Although grateful for the award, Tunnell doesn’t want people to forget about the rest of his colleagues, who also have been working hard during the pandemic.

“I am not the only one. This building is full of folks that come in everyday and do what they do,” he said. “I am hopeful people remember that as well. We all work here.”


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