The Jewish Chronicle
Jemma hitting the heights, despite her spinal condition
JEMMA COLLINS was two years old when diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy — which weakens muscles and causes problems with movement — and can no longer stand. Yet it has not held her back.
In the 35-year-old’s latest fundraising challenge for Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK, she will freefall abseil from the Arcelormittal Orbit in Stratford next month.
Ms Collins, who teaches maths at Heathcote School in Chingford, will also be marking ten years since the death of her father, Roy.
“He died unexpectedly from acute cardiac failure at 62, while on holiday with my mum,” she explained. “He always encouraged me with my condition. He never made me feel it would hold me back and he always supported the charity, which is why I want to do this for him. I miss him more than words could ever describe.” She hopes to reach her target of £3,500.
The Redbridge United Synagogue member lives independently, with the support of a full-time carer.
She wants to raise awareness of the condition, as “every bit of funding is vital for the continued progress of research into an eventual cure”.
Last year, Ms Collins did a skydive in aid of the charity, which she recalled as “relatively easy.
“I was strapped to someone so they were in charge.”
She is “more scared” about her latest challenge. “I will be freefalling on my own and I’ve never done anything like it. I hope I can show people that while there are things I can’t do, there is plenty I can.”