An Islandmagee man will spend a month cycling 1,200 miles across France to raise money for a former jockey paralysed in a riding accident.
David Stanbridge, aged 22, is undertaking the challenge in honour of his close friend Jonjo Bright, who was left paralysed after a serious fall from a horse while riding in the Tyrella point to point race.
The accident in May 2013 left the then 19-year-old Templepatrick jockey with a serious spinal injury at the C3 and C4 level, meaning that he was paralysed from the neck down.
Cycling enthusiast David is spending a month cycling alone and unsupported across the French countryside to fundraise so that Jonjo can continue to live as normally and independently as possible.
David told The Times: “Before the accident Jonjo was very active, he would have ridden horses every day, he had an interest in welding and farming and an active social life.
“When he had the accident I didn’t realise how serious it was until I saw him in hospital.
“He broke his neck and there are a lot of unknowns but it is unlikely he will be able to walk again, and he has little sensation from the neck down.”
Despite suffering life-changing injuries, David says that Jonjo has remained positive in the face of adversity.
He continued: “It was hard for Jonjo to deal with but he has been superb throughout it all and his family has coped very well.
“He has had a lot of support from friends and the wider family circle.
“There have been a lot of modifications to the house with ramps, doors and lifts but Jonjo still has a strong interest in farming and livestock and he gets out in the jeep every day and helps with planning the farm.
“He has also been using the exoskeleton from Neuroconnects who have recently opened in Mallusk.
“He is a really strong and positive person.”
David, who is a member of Carrick’s Madigan Cycle Club, says he decided to cycle over 1,000 miles from Cherbourg to Nice to raise £5000 to help support Jonjo in the future.
He explained: “It will be tough cycling and I’ll have to average 60 miles a day from May 1-31 but it’s nothing compared to what Jonjo goes through every day.
“I considered a few options like driving a banger car to Russia but when I discussed them with my Dad we decided they are too easy.”
The money raised will go to The Jonjo Bright Trust, which was set up to support Jonjo after the accident. David continued: “Jonjo uses a lot of equipment that is very expensive and it won’t last forever.
“He has machines he puts on including electronic pads on his legs which move them in a cycling motion for exercise and to keep the joints moving and free.
“Jonjo was hard working before and would have had an interest in welding and this is to give him future security.”
David’s challenge will begin in Cherbourg on the May 1.
The local man is appealing to the public to support his fundraising cycle, and says he would greatly appreciate any donations.
To donate to David’s efforts, visit the “Cycling for Jonjo Bright” page at www.fundrazr.com.
For more information or to help fundraise for Jonjo, visit http://www.jonjobrighttrust.com/