Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Shocked and devastated' community aims to raise €200k for young father paralysed in horrific accident

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Mícheál Ó Scannáil

THE friends and family of a young father paralysed in a "horrific accident" have begun a fundraising campaign to raise €200,000 to help him as he recovers.

Ollie Cox, from Clondra in Co Longford, was involved in an accident on July 25, which left him with life-changing injuries.

Friends and relatives of the "hard working family man" - who has two sons, aged eight and seven and is expecting another child in October with his wife Jasmine - have banded together and are well underway in the fundraising attempt.

A GoFundMe page was set up and has already raised almost €30,000, while a committee will meet tonight to discuss other possible fundraising ideas. Jacinta Fallon, secretary of the committee, said that they will fundraise in the background to allow Ollie's devastated family time and space to support him through his recovery.

"The family are still quite shocked and devastated over what has happened to poor Ollie so we have to be very cognisant of their needs," she said.

"They're still trying to come to terms with what has happened, and Ollie is in the Mater Hospital so it's just a very tough time for the family. They've two young boys and Ollie is going to be a dad again in October, so it's a hard time for them to travel up and down to Dublin.

"We're taking this fundraising and leaving them worry about Ollie and not have to worry about it. They just need to think of him and not have to know anything about this. We just want to be sensitive to their needs."

Ollie's medical team confirmed that he had broken bones in his back, neck, and shoulder along with broken ribs and that he would require surgery to stabilize his damaged vertebrae. Ollie’s damaged T9 vertebrae severed his spinal cord resulting in irreversible paraplegia- paralysis from the waist down.

Having undergone vital surgery the day after his accident, Ollie was subsequently placed on a ventilator. He will have to remain in hospital for a recovery period of around three months followed by transfer to a rehabilitation center, but Ms Fallon said that his recovery has been progressing well so far.

"It will be a long process and everybody will have to just support the family as best we can, and try to ease the financial burden as best we can for them," Ms Fallon said.

"He's making slow progress, but good progress. They're happy with how he's doing."

Ollie’s wife Jasmine has had to give up work to care for him and their family, and significant remodelling will have to be done to make their home wheelchair friendly. There will also be "enormous costs" involved in the acquisition of a wheelchair and other equipment necessary to his recovery.

Ms Fallon said that their local community in Clondra as well as Jasmine's town of Termonbarry, and Killashee where Ollie coached underage GAA, have come together to raise funds for his family. It is their hope, she said, that the campaign can ease some of the financial worry for his family.

"We have a few fundraisers planned over the coming month, we hope to have a golf classic and a tractor ruin and various local clubs are holding events. There's a 'back to the 80s' disco night on Saturday in Magan's in Kilashee, they have a tractor run and a race night. We're having a meeting tonight to discuss fundraising options.

"Strokestown Kiltrustan Sports club are running a vintage day on September 15 and they've kindly offered to split proceedings made on the day with the Ollie Cox Injury Fund. We are delighted. It's their own event and they want to split the money with Ollie.

"His house will have to be renovated so that he can come home and he'll need equipment to adapt to his new needs and a wheelchair and things. People have been so good just offering their services to help out any way they can at all."

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