‘Only for the IWA, I don’t know if I’d still be around’ says John Cooney

‘Only for the IWA, I don’t know if I’d still be around’ says John Cooney
John Cooney, from St Nicholas Avenue, was in the prime of his live when his world changed forever.

John Cooney, from St Nicholas Avenue, was in the prime of his live when his world changed forever.

Following an accident, John, a skillful footballer player, would never be able to stand on a pitch again.

Whilst working in a paper plant, a bail of paper weighing 2.5tonnes fell from 14feet above his head.

The injuries John sustained shattered his world.

John’s spine was broken in three places, his spinal cord was broken in half and he fractured several ribs.

After spending eight hours on an operating table, a long recovery road lay ahead.

“I spent nearly seven months in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire,” said John while speaking to The Dundalk Democrat, “If it wasn’t for the rehabilitation centre, I would be dead.

“This is the only national rehab centre in Ireland. There should be one in every county.

“It was hard for my family to travel to see me all the time.

“It was very hard to accept what happened to me. Your whole life can change in the matter of five minutes.”

John spent the next three years of his life doing nothing.

“A friend of mine in the Beehive Shop on the Castletown Road informed me about the local branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association,” John recalled, “It was the best advice that was even given to me.

“My new life started when I got involved with the IWA. Only for the IWA, I don’t know if I would still be around.”

Since getting involved, John has grown to love computers and is a key player on the wheelchair basketball team that compete on the national stage.

“I love basketball, it’s a lot of fun,” said John, “But it’s becoming very painful at times, so I think I will be hanging up the chair this year.

“I enjoy playing boccia - it’s like bowling and everybody in the IWA plays it.

John was off the road for over twelve years, but in 2009 he got behind the wheel in a Volkswagon Golf.

“It was brilliant to get back on the road,” says John, “I became an independent person again. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted. I depended on nobody.

“The people involved in the local IWA are brilliant. Anything that we want, we get.

“It’s a brilliant service they provide - from offering dinners, playing sports to transport.

“I would advise anybody to get involved with the IWA.

“It changed my life,” said John.