Defiant Dylan dreams of becoming paralympian a year after horror fall

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“Dylan’s unbelievable. If you saw him today . . . he puts us all to shame. He’s an inspiration.”

Proud mother, Nina Wade, pays a glowing tribute to her defiant 15-years-old son, Dylan who, though tragically paralysed from the waist down after falling from a tree in St. Columb’s Park one year ago this weekend, has refused to let his injury define him.

The Brandywell teenager spent last summer under the knife variously at Altnagelvin, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and Musgrave Park Hospital, as medics did their best to put him back together after he suffered life-threatening injuries one catastrophic Sunday afternoon.

Just 12 months later, amazingly, the young sportsman, with the support of friends, family and his teachers at St. Joseph’s Boys’, Messrs. Emmett McGinty and Graeme Doherty, is now determined to pursue his dream of competing at the Olympic Games one day.

Well-wishers have organised a 5K run/walk to raise funds for a ‘race chair’ which will be fully fitted to meet Dylan’s size and needs.

Supporters have already raised £2,052 towards the high-spec chair which will cost up to £6,000 in total.

So, who knows? With a fair wind, the Brandywell boy could be on his way to Tokyo in 2020!

It might have been so different, however, as his mother testifies while recalling a Sunday from hell last year.

On May 8, 2016, Dylan left the house to go to St. Columb’s Park with his friends on a “beautiful sunny day.”

An hour-and-a-half later Nina’s phone rang.

“It was the ambulance crew and the police. I had to run to the scene straight away. I saw Dylan lying there and his clothes were all cut off him.

“I was in hysterics. The ambulance crew had to pull me back. They didn’t want Dylan to be more stressed.”

Dylan had been larking about, as 14-year-old boys do, up one of the trees on the slopes running down behind the Foyle Arena, towards the river.

“He climbed up and his friends were shouting to him to get down. As he was making his way down he slipped on a branch and the branch broke and hit him on the chest. He put his head into his chest. He never got hurt on the head. The injuries concerned his back.”

Dylan was rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital where, at one point, doctors believed there was a chance he could die.

“There was blood coming from his heart when we got him to Altnagelvin,” Nina explained.

“They didn’t think he was going to make it and I had to send for all the family.

“Our whole lives changed within an hour-and-a-half. I’m broken to this very day after what has happened him. I’ll never get over it.”

There followed four long months of operations, physio and, eventually, the dreaded prognosis: Dylan had T12 paralysis as a result of his spinal injuries and was unlikely to walk again.

He took the news badly and refused to leave his room in the Spinal Unit at Musgrave Park for a few days.

Nina thanks another young spinal injury sufferer, Dean Doherty, who broke his back when he fell off his scrambler in Magilligan shortly before Dylan suffered his horrific accident, for lifting her son’s spirits when they were at their lowest ebb.

“He wouldn’t come out of his room in Musgrave for a couple of days but Dean Doherty, from Limavady, was there and he had similar injuries.

“He brought Dylan out of his shell. The two of them just hit it off and had so much fun in Musgrave, even though they were the way they were, the mischief and fun they had . . .”

The realisation that Dylan was paralysed from the waist down hit Nina like a ton of bricks.

“They told me he was paralysed but I couldn’t accept it. I’m not accepting it. I just couldn’t accept it.”

“In many ways, Dylan hasn’t accepted it either, having shown an incredible attitude over the past year that’s been an inspiration to everyone who knows him.

“He just gets on with his life and he’s back at his training.

“Three weeks after he got out of hospital he went and did a 5K for suicide awareness on his wheelchair.

“He’s an inspiration. His attitude to life is unbelievable. He says the only thing he can’t do is play football and walk but it has made him a stronger person, what he’s been through. He just gets on with life.”

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