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Karen Darke


“Disability is a state of mind, not a state of body.”



Karen Darke, who attended a Back Up ski course in 1994, is one of our greatest hopes at this year's Paralympics. Having won double bronze in her event of handcycling at the World Championships last year, she is now going for gold.

In addition to training hard for London 2012, Karen is also preparing for an even bigger challenge. In 2013, she plans to become the first person to sit-ski from the edge of the Antarctic ice cap to the South Pole. She will be joined by the three other able-bodied members of her Pole of Possibility team and hopes to raise £1m for Back Up, the charity which played such a crucial role in her recovery.

Karen embodies the spirit of Back Up and is an inspiration to everyone, whether they have a spinal cord injury or not. An outdoor enthusiast from a young age, Karen was paralysed from the chest down in a rock climbing accident. It was a particularly cruel blow for someone who had enjoyed such an active life. But while recovering in Glasgow spinal unit, Karen heard about Back Up. It was the turning point she had been waiting for. She said:

“There was a time when getting out of bed seemed beyond possibility. Back Up helped me re-build my life after paralysis, gave me the opportunity for fun and adventure, and to see what was still possible.”

Explorer and patron of Back Up, Chris Bonnington, is supporting Karen's epic journey to Antarctica. He said:

“Skiing to the South Pole is a great challenge under any circumstances, but what Karen is attempting to do on her sit-ski will be a truly astonishing feat of determination and endurance. It makes me feel humble – my ascent of Everest seems very modest compared to the challenge she faces”.

This is a unique opportunity for companies to sponsor Karen's epic journey to the Paralympics and beyond. For further information on how to get involved email Sean.

Pole of Possibility information and sponsorship pack.pdf