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Friday 29 August 2014

Blind adventurer Mark Pollock says relationship with fiancée ‘stronger than ever’ four years after tragic fall

Anita McSorley

Published 02/07/2014 | 08:11

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Four years ago today, blind adventurer Mark Pollock fell out of a window and broke his back, which tragically left him paralysed from the waist down.

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Mark, from Holywood in Co Down, has been fully blind since the age of 22 when his retinas became detached partially due to an injury he had previously sustained.

Despite his disability, he completed adventures across deserts, mountains and the polar ice caps, including a two month expedition race to the South Pole in 2009.

The fall happened just three weeks before he was due to marry his fiancée, Simone.

Mark and Simone

As a result, Mark was in hospital for over a year and Simone stayed by his side throughout.

Since then, the couple have been on a journey that has seen Mark (38) go through intensive rehabilitation at the innovative Project Walk in San Diego and become the first person in the world to own a personal set of robotic legs made by Ekso Bionics.

Both Mark and Simone have become Board Members at the Reeve Foundation, originally set up by ex-Superman Christopher Reeve.

Today marks exactly four years since the fall and, at this time of year, the couple tend to reflect on what might have been.

“The wedding thing is funny because we are programmed for stories to have a happy ending. From Shakespeare to Hollywood rom-coms they always end with a wedding,” said Simone.

Despite the fact that the couple has yet to get married, Mark says that they’re still very much together.

“In terms of commitment, if that’s what marriage is about, I feel like we’re closer than ever.”

Mark also spoke about his hope to find a cure for spinal injury.

“I specifically want to help to find a cure. I want a cure for movement if we can have that, I want a cure for the secondary problems if we can get that or any subset of those.”

Simone and Mark are also working together on raising awareness for spinal injury and Simone thinks Mark is uniquely qualified to make it happen.

“This is a mountain to climb. This is an expedition to the South Pole and he’s able for it and he’s sort of done it before. If not him, who? If not now, when?” she said.

Mark has also gone to Hollywood to tell his tale; he recently took to the TEDx stage to speak about the dichotomy of acceptance and hope.

It forms part of the closing sequence of a feature documentary to be released in October called UNBREAKABLE, which follows Mark and Simone’s story from before his fall, through his recovery and search for cures in the world of science.

Irish Independent

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