Jason Clymo’s road to independence

A Monash college pledged its hearts and bodies into a weekend event to raise much-needed funds to help a young student who became a paraplegic in a tragic accident. 

 By MATTHEW SIMS

Students and alumni of Mannix College raised $13,100 at a fundraising event over the weekend to help with the rehabilitation of a former resident, medical student Jason Clymo.

Last December,  Mr Clymo became paralysed from the waist down after he fell down a three-story stairwell onto concrete and broke his spine.

From left to right: President of the MOCA, James Fitzpatrick, fundraiser organiser, Aleisha Boak, partner Cameron Bowles, Jason Clymo, President of the MCSS, Julian Woods and Principal of Mannix College, Sean Brito-Babapulle.
From left to right: President of the MOCA, James Fitzpatrick, fundraiser organiser, Aleisha Boak, partner Cameron Bowles, Jason Clymo, President of the MCSS, Julian Woods and Principal of Mannix College, Sean Brito-Babapulle.

The accident happened after a night out drinking with his friends. He lay unconscious for almost four hours before anyone found him.

To help raise funds for his rehabilitation, the Mannix College Student Society (MCSS) and Mannix Old Collegians Association (MOCA) asked for online donations, held a raffle and an auction at the weekend. Mannix College contributed $6000.

MOCA president James Fitzpatrick says the day was a great success despite the poor weather.

“Everyone had a good time and it seemed as though Jason enjoyed the support, not just in terms of the money that we provided through the fundraising, but also just getting together to show our support for him from the family at Mannix,” Mr Fitzpatrick says.

Mr Clymo says he doen’t blame his accident on the amount of alcohol he drank,  but his advice to others on a night out is to always make sure your friends are safe.

It’s easy to “get carried away” and think that you wont get hurt, he says, but accidents can happen regardless of how intoxicated you are.

“Look out for your friends, no matter what, that … mean[s] not getting so drunk yourself,” he says.

Mr Clymo has taken the injury in his stride and says it has made him better appreciate the people in his life.

“I would not say that it has a negative effect on me at all.”

“I am just going to have to adjust, because this is how I am going to have to live for the rest of my life,” he says.

“There is no point beating myself up about it, saying, ‘What if?’ or getting upset about it.”

The money raised at Sunday’s event will go a long way towards entering Mr Clymo into a premium rehabilitation service known as The Next Step.

Players from MOCA and MCSS  in the football match on Sunday.
Players from MOCA and MCSS in the football match on Sunday.

This kind of rehabilitation involves an intense recovery-training regimen that helps those without the use of their legs or other parts of their body to live more comfortably.

While he has deferred his third year of study in medicine at Monash University, Mr Clymo hopes to become independent again and continue his degree next year, possibly even specialising in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

He says Monash University has offered to do everything possible to increase accessibility to education.

“I am a pretty low-level injury, so I can still use my hands and arms and my abs perfectly, so I am still very capable of doing anything that I really want to do,” he says.

Mr Clymo says he has received overwhelming support from people in all parts of his life, including his parents, friends, his boyfriend, the Mannix College community and even people he hasn’t seen in over 10 years.

“It shows that you don’t just come to college for two years and leave and they forget about you,” he says.

“They are always going to look after you [if] something bad happens.”

“Obviously, a day like today, raising over $13,000 is a massive effort.”

As well as an auction and raffle, Sunday’s fundraiser involved Mannix collegians and alumni partaking in some friendly rivalry on the sports field.

Teams representing MCSS and MOCA competed in a netball game, with MOCA winning by nine points and an Australian Rules football game later in the day, with MCSS winning this one in a landslide.

The auction of several items, including signed jumpers from the Richmond and Melbourne Football Clubs and a 50-inch flat screen television collected $2235.

In addition to this, the raffle of assorted vouchers and Mannix College merchandise contributed $2135.

Mr Fitzpatrick says Jason Clymo’s story should an inspiration to everyone and a reminder to appreciate what we have.

“The way that he is able to put a smile on his face despite everything that he has gone through and still be so upbeat about life shows incredible resilience and strength of character,” he says.

“I think the scariest thing for us, especially for the Old Collegians, is that this is something that could have happened to any one of us.”

For more information on upcoming fundraisers or to donate to Jason’s rehabilitation visit http://www.jasonsroadtoindependence.com/