The parents of a three-year-old "little warrior" who nearly lost his life in a hit-and-run incident a year ago today have thanked hospital staff, physical therapists, and the community in Cork for their overwhelming support since the traumatic incident.
Zac Higgins, of Mahon in Cork, has defied expectations and is making steady progress on the long road to recovery.
Young Zac was diagnosed with a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) to the brain after he was hit by a car outside his home on March 25 2019.
When he was first injured it was touch-and-go as to whether he would survive to reach his third birthday in July of last year.
His mother Aishling says Zac and his siblings Max and Belle are having fun around the house as they all continue to stay home amid the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland.
"Zac had his first online session of speech and language therapy yesterday. It went really well.
"He is doing well around the house at the moment but he doesn't really understand why he has no school.
"It was my eldest son Max's birthday a few weeks ago so he bought a bouncy castle out of his birthday money.
"That has them all entertained at the moment. Even if they are up at six in the morning!"
Paul Higgins, father of Zac, made an online video to express his gratitude for all the support they have received.
He also wants to show the progress of his youngest son.
He says the family will never forget the outpouring of compassion which was shown to them following the hit and run.
"Twelve months ago today our little warrior was knocked down in a hit-and-run outside our home.
"Many long nights in dark places but this fella’s smile makes it all worth while.
"To my wife who has been incredible with Zac, thank you. Thanks to Evolve Therapy Mallow. Aine and Emily who have been incredible.
"Zac's a different boy to whom them began working with in May 2019. All hospitals who went above and beyond for our son, to the people who work with him everyday at Mahon Community Pre-school and Brothers of Charity for their continuous work with Zac.
Finally a huge thank to doctors and more importantly the nurses of St Gabriel's Ward in Temple Street in Dublin. True everyday superheroes.
Paul said that Zac "smiled and battled through it all" from resuscitation in Cork University Hospital (CUH) to 12 days in intensive care in Temple Street.
"From there to ward eight in Temple Street for eight weeks. You simply amaze us every day."
Paul says he and Aishling are grateful for the mass outpouring of support they have received since the accident.
"Without our own family and friends we would have been lost and the community of Mahon and afar thank you."
Zac incurred serious injuries after being knocked down while playing with a ball at Castle Meadows, in Mahon, Cork city, on March 25 of last year.
He was hit by a blue Mazda 6 which left the scene.
A successful fundraising appeal was launched at Ringmahon Rangers in Mahon on the southside of Cork city.
Paul volunteers with the club and he and Aishling are known for being helpful members of the local community.
Zac suffered a closed head injury in the hit and run. He has made a remarkable recovery but given his young age it will be several years before the final prognosis is known.
Zac was hospitalised at Temple Street Children’s Hospital for several weeks for treatment for a head injury and other injuries.
He has also spent time in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire.
A person has been sentenced before the courts in relation to the incident.
Aishling Higgins has previously said that the day of the accident was the worst day of her life.
"We were just getting ready to go out. Zac was playing football in the garden with his cousin.
"I just popped in to the conservatory to get my coat. My neighbour was standing at the door.
"Someone shouted he was knocked down. I ran out but I couldn't see the child or any car.
"I just looked down at my feet and he was lying there lifeless and bleeding from the head. I screamed for help.
I will never forget the gut wrenching feeling that I knew something very serious was wrong. We feared for our little boy whose life was hanging by a thread.
Zac was put on life support and transferred by ambulance to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin.
Doctors subsequently informed them the toddler had suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, a fractured hip and a collapsed lung, a bleed on the brain and a diffuse axon brain injury.
Aishling said that their "perfect happy healthy little boy” fought the “bravest battle of his life at the tender age of two and eight months.”
However Zac fought back going on to celebrate his birthday with a family party last July.
He was also the special guest at the launch of Cork on Ice last Christmas.