FIVE years ago, paralysed Sonny Wells felt all he had to look forward to was a bleak future.
The self-confessed ‘Jack the Lad’ was left paralysed from the chest down after jumping off South Parade Pier into the sea below in a ‘tombstoning’ stunt.
He went from being an active young man who enjoyed football, golf and boxing to facing up to the new reality of being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
But last year, the 25-year-old became inspired by the Paralympics, and has joined a wheelchair rugby team.
His aim is to make it to Brazil for the 2016 Games.
And now he’s getting a huge helping hand after a a schoolfriend of Sonny’s mum got in touch to help with life-changing donations totalling almost £10,000.
Sonny’s mum Jacqui Unal, 48, grew up with Jo White, 49, in Leigh Park, Havant. After finishing school, the pair parted ways.
Jo, now of The Brow, in Widley, runs two investment businesses and has set up the charity Big World Impact.
She decided to help make Sonny’s paralympic dream come true after seeing his story in The News.
She said: ‘I read the article in the paper and picked up the phone straight away. Sonny is really inspiring and I just wanted to help.’
Jo paid £4,500 for a specialist wheelchair for Sonny.
On Friday night a psychic supper fundraiser was put on by family friend Pauline Davey, which included a raffle and collection.
Here, Jo presented the family a cheque for £5,000, to further help Sonny get equipment and training for the Paralympics. Jacqui said: ‘I cannot thank Jo enough. When she told me I just started to cry.
Sonny, who plays with The Solent Sharks, based in Southampton, said: ‘After my accident I lost all my confidence.
‘For the first four years I didn’t want to leave my room.
‘I hid myself away from everyone.
‘But when I saw the rugby at the Paralympics, I thought I could see myself doing that.’
His goal now is to get to a level where he can compete in the next Games.
His family and friends started a massive fundraising drive to help him on his journey.
‘I want to thank everyone else who has helped,’ Sonny added.
‘It doesn’t matter if it’s one pound, or £100, it all makes a difference.’
SONNY WARNS OTHERS NOT TO RISK ‘TOMBSTONING’ INJURY
FOR what he called ‘five minutes of madness’, Sonny Wells broke his neck in three places, leaving him paralysed from the chest down.
Sonny’s accident in May 2008 happened when he jumped 30ft from South Parade Pier, into just three feet of water in a practice known as ‘tombstoning’. In 2010, he teamed up with the RNLI to make a film about his experiences to warn others not to make the same mistake. Since then it has been viewed almost 17,000 times on YouTube. .