A healthy disregard for the impossible

It’s 4 am. I’ve been woken by words and images turning like a storm in my mind. Despite emerging from different sources they all map the same path; they all eventually point to the same place: “…don’t respect the gap between reality and fantasy…”, “…the wound is where the light enters you…”, …optimism is our most powerful weapon…”, “…we all have the innate ability to invent and solve problems…”

I have been ignited by the past few days and I now want to tie down these thoughts and put them on this page for you. This is because none of this, none of this would have happened without you. None of this would have happened without your ambition for me and my paralysed body.

I was invited to speak at a gathering in London of the world’s greatest innovators in science, music, art, medicine, design, social justice. I was invited because I could talk about how paralysis has affected me and how now I can walk in Ekso Bionics robotic legs. The same robotic legs that you helped me to get.

For 18 months I was in hospital with a broken back, and a broken life. As the 12-week marker passed and the feeling and movement in my legs didn’t return, recovery became impossible. But, there were people out in the world that were ambitious for me. They did not care about the conventional wisdom. They were not respecting the gap between reality and fantasy. Those friends launched the Run In The Dark – (www.runinthedark.org) raising funds and hope.

That gathering in London was 48 hours in the creators’ corridors; Wired 2012. I heard people discuss real life solutions to challenges that were insurmountable when they first looked at them. Creative people dismantling the impossible in design, science, music and art. Scientists and inventors who are redefining human capabilities and artificial intelligence. Social activists and neuroscientists who are fighting to preserve human dignity around the world. They all had a healthy disregard for the impossible. All of them. And this is why I am awake at 4 am.

And now, as the first individual in the world to have access to an Ekso on a daily basis, I’m starting to explore the impact that walking has on my health and on my paralysed body. I will be tracking the research and sharing that so maybe what I learn will improve the health of other spinal cord injured people.

So that I can get to the gym and walk and train every day, Run in the Dark is back. Dynamite Piers White in the Mark Pollock Trust has gathered an incredible group of people in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London and New York. They are all making it happen this year. Formal members of the committees. Informal members of the team. People whoare selling, promoting and entering the events. And people who will be marshaling, organizing and running logistics on the night.

To register or to volunteer to help with the run on the 14th of November 2012, please go to – www.runinthedark.org.

For all of you who are with me making an ambition a reality please know that you kept me going through the dark days when I thought I couldn’t, and that you are now helping me to dismantle impossible. I can never thank you enough.

Click here to read piece by Markham Nolan in Metro UK


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