• France's news in English

French MS sufferer plans Everest skydive

AFP · 26 Oct 2013, 10:29

Published: 26 Oct 2013 10:29 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I am a happy person. Probably a little crazy...just a little. First, happy," 55-year-old Frenchman Marc Kopp told AFP in Kathmandu ahead of his scheduled tandem skydive next week.

Kopp, who lives in Longwy, northeast of Paris, has suffered for more than a decade from multiple sclerosis, the degenerative nervous system disease which French MS sufferer plans Everest skydive disrupts the brain's ability to communicate with the body.

Muscles weaken, lesions emerge on the brain and spinal cord and in the worst cases, patients can lose the ability to speak or walk.

Although he usually uses a wheelchair, few places in Nepal are disabled-friendly so he manages with a walking stick, holding on to his friend, champion skydiver Mario Gervasi who will accompany him on his jump.

It was 13 years ago when Kopp, then a senior manager in local government, felt a haze before his eyes. He dismissed the blurred vision -- a symptom of MS -- as a sign of working too hard.

Then he had trouble moving his right leg, experiencing sharp pain when he tried to do the simplest tasks.

His right arm followed and soon, his whole right side hurt. An enthusiastic horseman, eventually, every activity became painful.

After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed in 2001 with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a form of MS with almost no prospect of remission.

"I thought I was prepared to hear anything, it had taken so long, one year to diagnose the cause. But when I heard the news, it hit me hard," he said.

A friend sent Kopp MS-related reports but he couldn't bear reading them.

"But my wife looked at all of them and saw our future," he said.

"Seeing her so frightened made me realise I had to be strong, I had to face my illness," he added.

As his condition worsened, he became increasingly determined not to simply become a victim and instead began volunteering for a support group for fellow

When he met Gervasi last July at a parachuting event in Lorraine, the skydiver who has jumped over Everest and over the North and South poles, was planning a trip to Nepal with French football legend Zinedine Zidane.

But a clash of schedules meant the footballer could not join him and instead, he asked Kopp if he wanted to skydive over the mountain together.

It took Kopp less than a minute to say yes.

Story continues below…

"Why not? I felt like I would send a message of hope. Even if you are sick, you are still alive."

He raised 26,000 euros ($35,885) for the trip from friends and well-wishers.

The exact timing of the jump depends on the weather but it could be as early as Monday.

The opportunity to jump from a chopper hovering 10,000 metres (32,800 feet) above the roof of the world is a gift, he said.

"I always wanted some adventure in my life, like my childhood hero Tintin," he said, referring to the Belgian comic book hero who also travelled to the Himalayas in search of excitement.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President Fran├žois Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available