A young Cork man who was seriously injured during Storm Emma said he is in awe of the support received from family, friends, community, and the wider population.
Mayfield native Jack O’Driscoll was out walking with friends at a local sports field during Storm Emma, when he suffered a fall which resulted in him fracturing his C5 vertebrae in his neck. The incident left him paralysed from the chest down.
The former St Mary’s captain was brought to Cork University Hospital and transferred to the Mater Hospital in Dublin for surgery due to the severity of his injuries.
Jack has undergone rehabilitation in Dublin for the past year and only recently returned to Cork.
A former CIT student, Jack returned to the campus on Monday to receive a cheque for over €15,000 which was raised by the students union.
The money was raised by students and staff during a host of events during the year, including CIT Christmas Jumper Day, bag packing in Tesco, raffles, and a sponsored climb to the top of Carrauntoohil
“The support has been unreal,” said Jack.
“I’m in awe of it.
“The money raised is phenomenal and it will all go towards helping me reach those goals that I’ve set.
“When this happened to me I was obviously very down but people calling up every week from the area, people that would’ve known my mother or father, people I went to school with, teachers calling up week to week just kept me going.
“It was ultimately the people around me, my family, friends and the people of Cork that kept me going over the last 12 months and got me through it.”
Jack is still undergoing rehabilitation in a centre in Mahon but hopes to return home in the coming weeks. His house has undergone refurbishment to ensure it is ready to suit his needs.
Jack has seen major progress in his movement since he started attending a gym in December last year.
“I’m starting to be able to hold my wrists up and have more control over them,” he said.
“Every week there’s just small little goals, small achievements.”
As well as daily, short-term goals, Jack revealed he has a long-term one in his sights as well.
“My aim is to definitely come back to college,” he said.
“My ultimate aim is to be as independent as I can; to be able to get myself in and out of a pushchair, driving, getting myself dressed every morning, things like that.”
Jack admitted he is shocked himself at how much progress he has made in the 14 months since the accident.
“I can see the progress even over the last three or four months in the gym,” he said.
Jack revealed he has been able to head out with his friends and girlfriend and is often out and about.
Key to this progress was the wide range of support he has received from family, friends, his community, and the wider Cork population.
CIT students union president Aaron Buckley revealed that the €15,000 is one of the highest amounts ever raised by the students union.
“CIT is a real student-centred environment, a student-centred college,” he said. “Jack is one of our own and we wanted to help him in any way we could.
“It’s unbelievable to see how far he has come and how positive he is. He’s a real inspiration to us all.”