Glowing tributes have been paid to a Magherafelt teenager who has died following a brave battle with duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
In 2014, Marc Bigger was nominated for one of the categories in RTE’s International Football Player of the Year award for his achievements in powerchair football.
Speaking at the time, Marc said he had found a new focus and an enriched social life through the sport.
“Football changed Marc’s whole world,” his mother Marina told the MAIL in March 2014.
“He changed overnight, becoming less withdrawn and generally much, much happier.”
A natural talent, Marc realised one of his dreams when he represented Ireland in the EDF/FIPFA International Trophy in Paris.
Marc played for the six-strong U-18 team, which saw him not only compete but excel against a number of other countries including France, Finland and the USA.
In one match in particular Marc’s passion and commitment for the game held all in thrall – a packed arena witnessed the then St Pius X College student score two goals against Finland – despite being ‘keeper.’
In a heartbreaking message posted on social media early this morning, Marc’s father, Raymond Bigger, said: “Wee man finally fought his last battle, the man above has gained a new angel.
“He really was an inspiration to us all, the way he dealt with his life and the things he achieved during his short stay just shows he lived his life to the max, Daddy will always love u son #arsenalfc#leaguechampions#14 sleep tight looking forward to that kick about up above”
Tributes have been paid to Marc from local families whose children also suffer from the devastating neuromuscular condition, DMD.
Claire O’Hanlon, from Coalisland, who set up the Leap for Luke charity to raise money to help fund medical research into DMD, said: “This morniing the DMD community in Northern Ireland is mourning the loss of Marc Bigger from Magherafelt. Not even out of his teens, Marc was an inspirational young man with an amazing mummy Marina Lupari and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family today. RIP Marc xxx #ThisNeedsToStop #EndDuchenne”
A representative of Team Callum, based in Co Derry, added: “Too close to home. Thoughts are prayers are with Marina and family”