Karen Darke- her story, her life changing fall, her Paralympic journey and the Pole of Possibility Challenge.
I have already introduced our student readers to our next guest and I wanted to include the same article in this parent blog as there is so much to be gained by encouraging your children to take part in the Pole of Possibility. Find our why here and let me introduce you to a woman who is superhuman, inspirational and motivational. Karen Darke is somebody that I, and many others look to for inspiration, she is an author, an athlete, an amazing team player, a motivational speaker and a very giving soul. Karen is very modest so would not agree with my introduction of her, but I think I would not be doing justice to her, myself or this story without letting you know what you are in for right from the start…
Karen has had the most amazing quarter of a century. Her life did a 180 degree turn at the age of 21 when she had a horrific rock-climbing accident whilst climbing on the sea-cliffs in Scotland. Karen woke from a coma to be told by doctors that she would not walk again. This life changing incident took Karen on a very different, truly inspirational journey. Aged 21 Karen became involved with raising money for spinal injuries charities, inspired by the support, opportunities and information they provided. Karen believed that so much was still possible, and she has been able to move forward and live a full and incredibly adventurous life again.
Twenty-four years after her injury, Karen’s connection to the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is as strong as ever. The bike she raced to gold on in the Rio Paralympics 2016 was designed and built by Williams F1, whose founder Frank Williams, was also paralysed in an accident. His daughter Clare Williams is Patron of SIA, and the support of Williams F1 in production of her bike inspired Karen to target fundraising £79K for the charity. Karen has broken the land speed record in a handbike – Karen achieved a speed of 46.05 mph over the 2.5 mile course, 17 mph faster than the previous female world record and won silver and gold medals at the Paralympic games. More publicised though was her effort to embrace heart and the true spirit of humanity, crossing the finish line holding hands in the London 2012 Games for the bronze medal.
Karen has moved mountains to raise money for charity and has the sort of personality that when you are asked by Karen to get involved, you do – because you really want to…. her energy is irresistible.
I hope that by reading Karen’s story and hearing about her new project, ‘Pole of Possibility’, that you will want to get involved. Read on here today and over the coming weeks to find out what the POP (Pole of Possibility) challenge is all about and how you can get involved.
Hi! I’m Karen, a lover of life and adventure, and always seeking the learning in life, staying curious as to what we can learn not only when things go well, but when things don’t go as planned too. I broke my back in a climbing accident when I was younger, and I think that is what taught me the importance of focusing on what we can do, not on what we can’t; and on being grateful for what we have instead of thinking about what we don’t have. I have been lucky to have a very adventurous life since then, sharing the learning with others and now helping people of all ages adopt an ‘adventure mindset’ as a way to feeling more freedom, joy and love within life.
In the Paralympics in Rio in 2016, I won the 79th medal for Britain, a gold. There is a bit of a story behind how things developed from there, but I came up with an idea for a project called Quest 79. I would visit seven continents and do nine rides – one on each continent, plus two Paralympic Games. While raising £79K for the Spinal Injuries Association, I want to encourage as many individuals, families and groups as possible to take on their own Quest 79 challenge, by taking a step out of their comfort zone. As I have learned through my own experiences, when we commit to something that stretches our mind or body in new ways and consistently work at it, it often begins a life-expanding process and allows us to see all sorts of new possibilities.
Once upon a time, pushing my wheelchair 79 metres was a big challenge, let alone crossing 7 continents. It seems almost unbelievable to think back to when I was laid in a hospital bed, broken and bruised, paralysed from the chest down with nothing but a view of dull ceiling tiles and the prospect of life in a wheelchair, that I have been able to ski across icecaps, kayak oceans, cycle across continents and experience the life of adventure and exploration that I have. This has inspired me to encourage others to do something that seems a bit of a challenge to achieve. We all have our own mountain to climb, but no matter how big or small we are aiming, we are destined to discover something inside ourselves that is precious. I call this our ‘Inner Gold’.
To date I have cycled six of the seven continents: Antarctica and creating the ‘Pole of Possibility’ remains. Each of the journeys has given me far more than the wonderful experience of travelling to new landscapes and cultures. Each adventure has gifted me with an experience of a powerful positive emotion: I felt compelled to write my Inner Gold blog series to share some insights on these, as I believe they are helpful emotions that we can all nurture in everyday life. If you like the sound of these, you can visit www.karendarke.com for blogs and podcasts on these ideas. In future blogs, I will tell you more about The Pole of Possibility and invite you to take part in a virtual way, so that you can join us on the flag, and maybe even have your own Top Trump card to represent your personal Quest 79. See https://pop.karendarke.com (soon to be www.thepopchallenge.com )
Thanks and I look forward to getting to know those of you that get involved!!
Wishing you a happy 2021
Watch this space for more news next time!