Paralysed man gets helping hand from south Kildare community

With a sense of caring, there is a sense of community.

With a sense of caring, there is a sense of community.

This is certainly the case in the villages of south Kildare, where people have rallied behind one of their own, in their support for The Jonathan Mulhall Trust Fund.

Jonathan’s life changed dramatically when he was involved in a single vehicle car crash last January.

“The car just got out of control and it went into a ditch near Ballitore. From the moment of the accident I couldn’t move. I put my hand on the horn to alert a local man for help,” he recalled. As a result of this accident he has been left with a C6 and C7 spinal injury, leaving him paralysed from the chest down.

Jonathan, 22, was in hospital for more than six months, recovering and adapting to his changed circumstances. “Miracles do happen but not in this case, I’m not going to get back up and walk again so you just get on with it.”

Ever since the accident the local community from Narraghmore, Kilmeade, Calverstown, Athy and Ballitore, have rallied around to show their support and a general wiliness to help. Many people thought that the family would receive large compensation due to his fully comprehensive insurance but he received less than E200 for his injuries. The community then established The Jonathan Mulhall Trust Fund.

Jonathan is known the length and breadth of the county, from his involvement with St Laurence’s GAA since a young lad and with RACE, the horse racing academy based in the Curragh. “Anyone who knows Jonathan knows of his love for sport, horses and the gym. His drive for perfection in everything he does has helped him greatly in coming to terms with his accident, Jonathan has made great progress since his accident and he will continue to make great strides into the future as he adjusts his life to coping with his changed circumstances,” said committee chairman and neighbour Vincent Gorman.

While Jonathan was recovering in hospital, plans got under way to refurbish his home in Ballindrum to make it wheelchair accessible. His family moved to a nearby house that was given to them by a neighbour as the works got under way.

“I have been so lucky to live in this community, they have done great things for me an my family. Since day one people just could not do enough for you. I am very blessed that way,” he said.

Since the accident, there have been a host of fundraising events from concerts to cake sales, duathlons and no-uniform days. His teachers from Kilmeade National School and Ardscoil na Trionoide have given their support, and so too have his club St Laurence’s, along with many of the local clubs and organisations and private individuals.

Jonathan played football right up to the accident and now plays rugby with the Irish Wheelchair Rugby Team on Wednesday in Clontarf.

“I’ve gone to a couple of games with St Laurence’s this year but it clashes with the rugby now. I never thought I’d say that,” he joked. The plan for now is to start back working. He is also aiming high, for the Olympics no less.

“I want to get back working, back to normality and I’m going to find a single sport and try to qualify for the Olympics. The para-Olympics was really inspiring. It’s all still a bit soon but it’s getting into line in fairness.”

His family have also naturally been very supportive, indeed his 19-month-old sister is a whiz-kid on his wheelchair. “It’s very funny. She loves the wheelchair, she’s well able for it and is fairly good at it too,” he said.

Speaking to the Leader, his mother Elizabeth said she was very grateful. “He’s home now so it’s the same as it always was,” she said. “We just want to thank everyone for everything.”

The latest fundraising event is on 1st December where 12-year-old Joseph Gorman, who won the Midlands Got Talent title, is launching his first CD ‘Candle on the Water’ in St Laurence’s GAA. It promises to be a fabulous evening of music and entertainment. Joseph’s CD will be available to buy on the evening and all proceeds will go to the trust fund. And without a doubt it will be a packed house in St Laurence’s.

- Lisa Deeney