The young Cork man paralysed after a freak accident during snowstorm Emma earlier this year has spoken of his wish to continue his love of sports and compete in the paralympics in the future.
20-year-old Jack O’Driscoll crushed his C5 vertebrae after he jumped off a three-foot fence into a pile of snow with his friends on March 1.
Despite this life-changing injury, he told the Evening Echo he is still hoping to go back to college this September and has set his sights once again on conquering the sporting world, this time as a Paralympian.
“Any sport I take up at home, wheelchair or not, I am going to take it as competitively as I can. I am not going to try and leave people beat me,” Jack said.
The GAA and soccer player from Mayfield has been inundated with well wishes and support from friends, family and members of the public throughout his recovery.
Speaking about the incident that caused his injury, Jack said he knew he was paralysed the instant he hit the snow.
“I got up on the fence and I jumped. Whatever way I landed, I landed on my head and cracked my neck and I was face down in the snow with my legs wrapped underneath me.” “I was trying to get up and my breathing was a bit heavy. I knew straight away that I was paralysed,” he said.
His recovery so far included an agonising five-hour ambulance journey from the CUH to the Mater Hospital in Dublin through the worst snowstorm in living memory.
Currently, at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, Jack said he had initially had limited control of his arms but has now progressed to being able to feed himself and his hoping to regain further control in the future.
He is now looking forward to coming home to Cork in the next two months, getting back into sports and returning to education.
“I’m keen to see all the lads, I can’t wait to get home, it’s keeping me going,” he said.
Jack, lived for sport and was a strong GAA and soccer player for Mayfield and St Mary’s AFC. He said he would like to continue his involvement with his local clubs.
“I hope to remain involved. I know it is not possible for the next couple of months, but eventually, I hope to be helping out with the kids and being around and going to all the matches, being on the sideline with the lads.” As well as this the ambitious and bright 20-year-old wants to return to college.
“I am definitely going back to college. I am not sure what kind, of course, I am going to do, I'm kinda thinking in my head about what is possible with the injury and what can’t I do, but college is definitely on the cards and I am definitely going back, hopefully, next September.
Speaking for the first time to the media since his accident, Jack took the opportunity to thanks anyone and everyone who supported him emotionally or financially on his path to recovery.
“I’d like to say thank you to everyone. It has been unbelievable the support and how people have taken it and how people think I am so inspiring to people as well. It is surreal and I am very grateful for it.” “I got an email from a guy who used to live in Cork. He was in Australia and had a similar injury and he emailed me and I still read it sometimes.
“It is very inspiring, he is 10-15 years post injury and he contacted me and told me how to keep going and how his life has changed for the better. I read that email if I had a bad day and it would keep you going.”
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo