Dad becomes first person with motor neurone disease to skydive over Mount Everest
John, who has already lost the use of his arms, is determined not to give up yet - and do all he can to raise awareness for the condition.
By Amy Reast via SWNS
A brave dad is the first person in world with motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to skydive over Mount Everest.
John Chart, 51, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease three years ago after he began to lose the movement in his arms.
He had to give up his 27-year career as a firefighter due to the condition.
John, also a former world champion powerlifter, wanted to show how tough MND warriors can be by skydiving over Mount Everest twice.
He is believed to be the first person with the condition to ever complete the challenge and has vowed to continue raise awareness as long as he is able.
John, who has four sons and a daughter who passed away, said: "Motor neurone disease is the cruelest of all cruel diseases.
"The diagnosis destroyed my life in a minute - knowing one day I'll become entombed in my body.
"Before my first skydive I felt very excited - and the feeling of skydiving over Everest was just unbelievable.
"But it was also emotional - I did it because I'm dying and right now nobody can help me.
"So I think it's my duty to raise awareness for this disease as long as I can and to put the message out there.
"There is a stigma around MND - I think it's something people are scared of and don't want to talk about because nobody knows enough about it.
"So I did it because we need to get more people thinking about this disease if we ever want to find a cure."
John, from Beckenham, south east London, began losing movement in his arms seven years back, which grew worse and worse.
In 2018, he had to give up a 27-year career as a London firefighter because of it, as well as stopping competing in powerlifting competitions.
John told how the diagnosis of motor neurone disease devastated him, as well as his wife Arlene Chart, 44, and their family.
He said of the disease, which claimed the life of Stephen Hawking: "It was the worst diagnosis in the world.
"It destroyed my life in a minute."
The cruel disease progressively damages parts of the nervous system, causing them to waste away - and there is no cure.
But John, who has already lost the use of his arms, is determined not to give up yet - and do all he can to raise awareness for the condition.
In 2020 he completed a charity bike ride of more than 800 miles from John O'Groats to Lands End to raise money and awareness for MND.
But he wasn't stopping there - and last month he became the first MND warrior to skydive over Mount Everest, the highest in the world.
On April 26 and 27 John did a tandem skydive from more than 23,000 feet above sea level.
It is thought that he is the first motor neurone disease fighter to EVER complete the challenge.
He said: "As I did the skydive I was very excited - I kept thinking 'this is incredible'.
"But it was tinged with sadness too, when I remembered the only reason I'm doing it is because I'm dying and nobody can help me.
"When I landed, my wife and eldest son Christopher, 16, were there - it was very emotional."
The challenge, and also his 2020 cycle, was funded by a charity called Pilgrim Bandits, an ex-military charity that John has connections to.
The skydive was organized by a company called Parabellum Tactical Training, and company co-owner Olga Winter, 36, described John as "phenomenal."
She said: "The general perception of people with any illness or disability is that you have to hide away in a corner and not do anything.
"But John has shown even with MND you can still live a full life and do so many amazing things - you don't meet many people like that."
And he isn't stopping there - he plans to keep proving how tough MND warriors are for as long as he is able.
He is planning a cage dive with great white sharks, a survival expedition in Norway, and to climb Mont Blanc all before the year is up.
John said: "Motor neurone disease is the cruelest of all diseases and nobody seems to want to talk about it.
"I just want to raise awareness for this disease as long as I can - it's my duty.
"I've been cursed with the hand of cards I've been dealt but I have to find the best of the situation.
"We need to get more people thinking about this disease if we ever want to find a cure."
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