We believe that the cure for spinal cord injury simply requires enough of the right people with the will to make it happen. It is our mission to find and connect those people worldwide to fast track a cure for paralysis.

By 2020 we aim to raise €5,000,000 through Run in the Dark, Team Unbreakable, corporate and private sources. Our specific objectives are:

  1. To support Mark's exploration for a paralysis cure by donating his paralysed body to research that will benefit him and the global spinal cord injured community to which he belongs. We do this by assisting with the capital and ongoing costs associated with Mark's injury and by enabling Mark to follow a demanding training and testing regime.

  2. To connect scientists, technologists, physiologists and funding bodies so that they collaborate in scientific research. We are currently funding a research scientist focused on translating scientific advances from the lab into humans with the aim of them being available to the entire global paralysis community.

  3. To put the creation of a paralysis cure on a global stage through Mark's public profile, his motivational speaking and the documentary film, Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story. We connect with the world through social and traditional media outlets and by working with decision makers around the world.

Who We Are:

Paula Cunniffe - Head of Mark Pollock Trust & Run in the Dark

I believe that through effective communication we can put the issue of spinal cord injury on the world stage and engage a tribe of followers to support the mission to fast-track a cure for paralysis. Leading the team at the Mark Pollock Trust I am focused on building that tribe, and generating funding to support our mission through our global running series called Run in the Dark and by working with our volunteer, commercial, government and academic partners to help fast-track a cure for paralysis.

Communications and project management has been at the heart of my work to date, on large-scale projects and events management with the Department of the Taoiseach, as a lecturer at the University of Florida and producing radio and TV programmes and documentaries for NPR, Athena Media, RTE and others.

I hold a 1st class BA in Journalism and Irish from DIT and a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Florida. I’m a runner, a cyclist, a hockey player and former President of Loreto Hockey Club.

Mark Pollock - Collaboration Catalyst & Explorer

Blind and Paralysed Explorer Mark Pollock on a mission to find a cure for spinal cord injury

Everything I do is about helping people achieve more than they thought possible. After losing my sight in 1998, I became an adventure athlete competing in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.

In 2010, a fall from a second story window nearly killed me. I broke my back and the damage to my spinal cord left me paralysed. Now I am on a new expedition, this time to fast track a cure for paralysis.

Selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and appointed to the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA), I run a professional speaking business (www.markpollock.com), am a co-founder of the global running series Run in the Dark and am an ambassador for Wings for Life Spinal Research Foundation (UK). I hold honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and from Queens University Belfast, a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University and degrees from Trinity College Dublin and The Smurfit Business School.

Simone George - Consultant Litigation Lawyer & Thought Partner

Everything I do is based on my belief in fairness. As a litigator I act both for commercial clients and as a freelance litigation resource for corporate lawyers. I also work on legal and advocacy projects in the area of domestic violence and spinal cord injury research.

I have been Mark’s thought partner since his accident. I also research, create and develop written content for Mark and the Trust and connect people and organisations. I have worked with Mark at Project Walk, Ekso Bionics and co-created our scientific research project with UCLA. Our current project is bringing the expertise from UCLA and the Pavlov Institute to Trinity College Dublin where we plan to extend this research to further subjects.

Appointed as a Director to the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA), I am a practicing solicitor, am a masters graduate from The College of Europe, Bruges, hold a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard and I am a double-graduate of NUI Galway.

Sarah O’Donovan – Engagement and Communications Lead

I believe that if we strive to be the best that we can be as individuals, then the team has the best chance of success. So, I combine my education, sporting and professional experience to be my best for the Mark Pollock Trust team on our mission to fast track a cure for paralysis.

I am a double graduate of University College Cork with a BCL in Law and a Joint Honours BA in English and History of Art. I have worked as a sports journalist for national and local publications and gained invaluable corporate experience working with the Cork Chamber of Commerce.

I represented Ireland at the UEFA European soccer championships, I have won two All Ireland senior camogie medals with Cork and now represent the Dublin senior camogie team.


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