When Reece Powell and Nathan McDonald read about 29-year-old Josh Lawrence’s accident in the Mercury in June, they decided they wanted to do something to help.
Josh has Down syndrome and fell from the balcony of his apartment just weeks after moving in.
He crushed his lower spinal cord beyond repair and has been in Prince of Wales Hospital since.
He has had a number of setbacks recently but his spirits were lifted when he was allowed a special trip to Wollongong to watch the Ultimate Wrestling Alliance at Wests Illawarra.
The event was organised as a fund-raiser by good friend Luke Potter who called Josh’s two new friends out during the show so they could make a special presentation.
Mr Powell and Mr McDonald had never met Josh but were inspired by his story and set about trying to raise money to help him.
They had already been thinking about entering the Blackmores Half Marathon when they heard about his accident and immediately knew they wanted to help.
‘‘He is a local boy and we are both from Woonona, and his story grabbed our attention,’’ Mr Powell said.
‘‘We set up a fund-raising page to raise money for Josh and got people to sponsor us in the race. We raised $2500 through friends and family.’’
Mr McDonald said the decision was not hard to make.
Josh is restricted to a wheelchair and will never walk again.
He said many family and friends had visited him in hospital, and the trip back home for the wrestling had been special.
Long-term carer and close friend Cathy Potter said complications caused by his injuries would prevent Josh returning home for a while but his outlook was still positive.
‘‘He will be in hospital until December at least,’’ she said.
‘‘But this is his first outing. I am a carer for him and have helped look after him for about 13 years. He is like one of my kids.
‘‘He has had a few setbacks with blood clots in his legs which moved to his lungs and his bladder and threatened his chances of coming down here but they gave us the go-ahead a few days before.’’
The money raised by Mr Powell and Mr McDonald will help prepare his mother’s home for Josh’s return.
And the Ultimate Wrestling Alliance night raised money for Josh’s medical expenses.
‘‘I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me by bringing the wrestling company here,’’ Josh said.
He was also aware of all the community support after his accident.
He has the Mercury story displayed prominently next to his hospital bed to remind him of all the good people in Wollongong.
He said many people still sent him cards and messages.
‘‘It has been great for me and helped me to keep going on,’’ he said.