|The Man Who Wants to put Humaneity in Travel.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 30th July 2012
The first time Mark Philpott’s life changed was when he was working for DHL in Belgium, he was watching a local TV programme about an athlete who had been badly injured and would no longer be able to compete again.
He determined to find the athlete and after a few hours of searching, his colleagues got the phone number.
“I called him and said, in all my corporate arrogance, ‘I am going to help you’. He laughed and replied, ‘How are you going to help me? Maybe I am going to help you.’”
That phone call set the path for a new journey he was to take with Marc Herremans. Together, they set up a grassroots foundation to help people in wheelchairs.
A few years later, still working with DHL, Philpott reached out to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. He wrote to the Reeves Foundation through a contact address on the website, never thinking he’d get a response. But he did and that led him to fly to the US where he met “Superman” and for four years, the foundation helped raised awareness to support Reeves' cause. In that time, Reeves also became Mark’s life mentor.
“The one thing he taught me was humility,” says Philpott, who left New Zealand at 15 to become a tennis pro in Australia until an injury dashed his hopes of a lengthy tennis career.
A few years ago, Philpott relocated with DHL to Singapore, leaving his work for the Marc Herremans Foundation behind. One Christmas, while in Sydney (where his sister lives) and shopping for presents in a mall, he collapsed. He woke up in hospital, to be told he’d had a massive cardiac seizure even though they couldn’t find any medical reason why he should have had that cardiac arrest.
“They told me it was probably stress-related, that I had probably disconnected from myself.”