Jack Kavanagh’s quest to walk

You’re a 19 year old university student – a trained life guard and windsurfing instructor. You drive into a wave. Your head strikes a sandbank. Your body goes numb. You are paralysed from the neck down. Your name is Jack Kavanagh.

How cruel a twist of fate it was that a favourite pastime would change his life utterly? But Jack is not the type to give up. In his own words he said, “Every morning I wake up and I say to myself ‘yes or no’”. Jack’s answer is an emphatic ‘Yes’.

After months of gruelling physiotherapy, Jack learned to breathe on his own without a respirator. Next, he regained limited use of his arms and wrists. He even travelled to England and tried an experimental robotic suit to help him walk on his own. Finally, he has returned to his Pharmacy studies, staying in a specially adapted room. He has confounded his doctors with his progress to-date, but he doesn’t want to stop there. Jack is a fighter.

Jack requires round the clock care and assistance, as he is still paralysed from the chest down and he needs funds to continue his recovery. The robotic suit costs €100,000 and people everywhere are helping. Jack was a keen rugby player and the Irish squad have rowed in to help.  Jack was on hand at Dublin Airport to welcome home the 6 Nation’s Champions. You can help too by making a donation to the Jack Kavanagh Fund (details below).

Jack’s Cork roots run deep and Cork is now pitching in to help his recovery. His mum, Elmarie Kavanagh (nee Barry), is from Bishops Road in Cobh and Elmarie’s father was the first Manager of the Cork Savings Bank. Jack’s aunt, Grace Reidy (nee Barry), is heading to California to represent Ireland in the over 45’s tennis tournament and his grandmother, June Barry, represented Ireland in over 60’s tennis and is a past President of Fota Island Golf Club.

 The Jack Kavanagh Golf Classic will be held at Fota Island Golf Resort (Home to the 2014 Irish Open) on Friday, May 2nd. Entry Fee is €300 for a team of 3 and the golf will be followed by a Race Night in the Clubhouse for which sponsors are urgently required for Races (€200) – Owners, Trainers and Jockeys €25. A raffle featuring great prizes including an original painting by the renowned Cork artist, Philip Gray will also shortly be taking place.

Those who can’t make these events and wish to contribute, can send their donation to the Jack Kavanagh Fund, Bank of Ireland, Main Street, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath

Account Number: 22317025   Sort Code: 903437 or visit www.jackkavanaghtrust.com

 For the Golf Time Sheet, contact Anne O’Hourihane (087-2353759) or Mary Daunt (087-2511124). For Tee Box or Green Sponsorship or for a Race Night donation, contact Tom Egan (087-2896738) or Keith O’Hourihane (087-9888934).

Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

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