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Man Battling ALS For 24 Years Finally Sees His Dream Of Skydiving Come True

Left image shows Mark Johnson climbing into an airplane. Right image shows ALS patient Mark with his jumpmaster preparing to jump out of a plane for Mark's skydiving adventure.

Mark Johnson was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) 24 years ago. His prognosis at that time was about two to five years before the disease took his life. But Mark wasn’t ready to go just yet. He had one dream. Even with ALS ravaging his body, Mark Johnson wanted to go skydiving.

Better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a fatal neurological disorder that affects muscle movement. As the disease progresses, motor neurons stop sending messages to muscles, leading to atrophy and difficulty breathing. A person with ALS slowly wastes away. Mark outlived his prognosis by 20 years! When entering hospice in April, he had only one unfulfilled wish. Even though ALS was robbing him of his ability to move, he still wanted to go skydiving one time in his life.

Image shows Mark Johnson getting into an airplane with his jumpmaster.
Image from YouTube.

Mark Johnson piloted airplanes in his youth. He always dreamed of jumping out of an airplane one day. When ALS interrupted his dreams, Mark battled for his life. Mark’s friends arranged for him to go on a tandem jump with a certified skydiving professional. A tandem jump is where an amateur straps to a skydiver, and the two complete the leap together.

Image shows a tandem skydiving jump team preparing to exit the airplane.
Image from YouTube.

Once they jumped, the tandem pair free-fell for a short bit. When the chute opened, Mark smiled as the two drifted down under the parachute.

Image shows Mark Johnson and his skydiving jumpmaster drifting down under a parachute and enjoying the view.
Image from YouTube.

The two jumpers were able to converse a bit as they drifted down. When they got close to the ground, the skydiver prepared to touch down safely.

Left image shows tandem jumpers drifting under a parachute. Right image shows the pair coming in for a soft landing following Mark Johnson's skydiving adventure.
Image from YouTube.

Mark’s jumpmaster was skillful in the landing, absorbing the force of the graceful return to solid ground.

Skydiving With ALS Is A Dream Come True

Mark can finally cross skydiving off his bucket list thanks to the “What If…” program through Shirkey Hospice and Palliative Care. As he continues his fight with ALS, Mark has been a strong advocate for others fighting the battle. Mark is one of the longest-surviving people with ALS. He says he will keep giving back to the community as long as possible.

Please share this tale of a man with ALS achieving his dream skydiving adventure.

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