Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Bruno Kopp: leader, hero, friend...
Today, it was Bruno Kopp, the leader of the German PH association, PHeV. He founded the organization in 1996 for the same reason that PHA's founders began ours...to help end isolation. Five years later, he organized the Rene Baumgart Foundation to raise money for PH research.
Rene Baumgart was Bruno's nephew, a nephew who had lost his mother to PH at the age of 10. Rene, himself, passed at the age of 19. I remember Bruno telling me that he became so angry about his nephew's loss, he created the Foundation to forge meaning from what had happened. You see Rene and his mother weren't Bruno's first loss to this disease. Fifteen of his family members, including Bruno, had been diagnosed with PH.
In 2006 and 2011, I was honored to stand next to Bruno in Frankfurt and speak at both the 10th and 15th annual Conferences of PHeV and, this year, had hoped that Bruno would be able to make the trip to Orlando in June to PHA's 10th bi-annual Conference. I am sad that will not be.
During PHeV's 10th Conference, I had been going through some difficult issues. One evening, Conference attendees were treated to a wonderful caberet performance. Bruno had asked me to sit next to him. At one point, he stood and dedicated the next song to me and to PHA. The song was Carole King's, You've Got a Friend.
Bruno, you were a good man who took the hard things that came into your life and turned them into good for many people. You were - and are - a hero.
You will not be forgotten...you've got a friend.