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250 runners play their part in finding a cure for paralysis

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt
Cian Reinhardt

Over 250 runners lined up at the University of Limerick boathouse on November 15 to take part in the ‘Limerick Run in the Dark’ five kilometre and 10-kilometre run.

The event was organized by The Mark Pollock Trust, which aims to raise €500,000 in total from over 50 cities globally to fast-track a cure for paralysis.

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

The runners braved a cold and wet evening in Limerick, running from the University boathouse along the cycle path and then back again.

The participants paid a €25 donation each to take part in the event and were given flashing armbands for the run and were provided refreshments at the finish line.

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

Similar fundraisers took place in several cities in Ireland on the November 15, and also in other cities across the globe, from Sydney to San Francisco.

The event in Dublin was scheduled for November 14 but was later postponed to the 22nd of the month.

Run in the Dark first popped up in 2011, in Dublin, but has since grown into a global event with involves around 25,000 people worldwide.

The Mark Pollock Trust started this event to find a cure for paralysis, which does not yet exist. There are no meaningful therapies for spinal cord injury either.

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

Run in the Dark at UL for the Mark Pollock Trust. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

The organization is named after the first blind man to race to the South Pole. Mark Pollock has also received silver and bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games for rowing.

Commenting on the Trust’s mission, Mr Pollock said: “We are exploring the frontiers of spinal cord injury recovery by bringing scientists, robotics engineers, medics and foundations and financiers together to work in ways they never have before.”

The Trust has already achieved many key milestones, including the following:

  • Stress tested the early designs of robotic legs.
  • Created the world’s first electrical stimulation and robotics study with multiple subjects and industry involvement.
  • Completed a 50 subject spinal cord excitability study in a group of 25 healthy subjects and 25 paralysed subjects in Trinity College Dublin.

The success of the Mark Pollock Trust’s projects was apparent when Mr Pollock himself became the first person in the world with chronic paralysis to actively take steps in a robotic exoskeleton.

The Trust is providing funding for upcoming trials to replicate research carried out on Mr Pollock, which could make Ireland the leading centre in the world for this type of research.

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