HANDCYCLIST and paralympic hopeful Karen Darke ended an awareness-raising tour in Sheffield – where she inspired patients with a message of hope for the future.
Karen’s four-day tour of spinal cord injuries centres in the north of England had begun at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and called at the Spinal Injuries Centre at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield – where Karen was herself treated – before finishing at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.
Sheffield firm B Braun Medical was Karen’s sponsorship partner for the initiative and around 20 Braun employees also took to their bikes to join her during various stages of the event.
Karen, aged 39, was paralysed from the chest down aged just 21 after a rock-climbing accident.
She delivered a message to patients in Sheffield that life can go on.
“I shared some stories of adventures that have been possible since I was paralysed – cycling, kayaking and in particular some great ‘wilderness’ adventures like sit-skiing across the Greenland icecap,” she said.
“I hope it might just trigger a spark for a different perspective on life for patients facing the initial challenges of paralysis so they can see that fun, adventure and physical fitness are all still possible.”
Sarah Browton, matron on the unit, said: “We were delighted to have Karen visit – she is an inspiration and I feel her presentation really hit home with our patients.
“She did a great job in showing particularly our younger patients that there is still so much they can do in life despite suffering a spinal cord injury.”
Karen recently took two silver medals in the Paracycling Road World Cup in Australia and gold in the Piacenza International Paracycling Cup in Italy.