A teenager who was left paralysed after he slipped and plunged six metres onto rock while doing a flip into a waterhole says he is determined to walk again because of his love of sport.
Jake Bilsborow finished work at his landscaping job at about 1pm in Adelaide Hills on Wednesday.
The 18-year-old told Daily Mail Australia it was a blisteringly-hot day and went with two friends to a Bridgewater waterhole – a place he’d been visiting since he was a child.
He always climbed right to the top to jump from the highest rock, but on that day, the talented sportsman decided to do a flip into the water.
Pictured: Jake Bilsborow, 18, with his girlfriend Ellen Dawson, 17, months before he broke his back
Pictured: Jake Bilsborow (left) and his friend Charlie (right) at Bridgewater water hole. Mr Bilsborow tried to flip 6m into the water
‘I don’t know why,’ he said. ‘I’d never done that before, I’d seen others do it before and I thought it’d be cool to try it.’
He took a took a run-up, but hesitated at the last minute and tried to stop.
‘I’d gained too much momentum, slipped and went flying off the edge,’ Mr Bilsborow said.
Without thinking, his friends Sam and James launched themselves into the water to drag the teenager’s broken body from the shallows.
‘I was unconscious and would have drowned if they weren’t there – they saved my life,’ he said.
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow tying a corsage on his girlfriend Ellen’s arm from his hospital bed before her school formal on Saturday
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow’s (left) hero friends James (middle) and Sam (right) who dragged him from the water
The pair called an ambulance and Mr Bilsborow was taken to hospital where surgeons realised he’d broken his back, skull, collar bones, two ribs, and his spinal cord.
After spending three days drifting in and out of sleep as his body adjusted to the painkillers, his parents Ben and Lisa Bilsborow told him he would never walk again.
But the teenager said his love of cricket is spurring him on to walk again, so he can play the sport with his friends again.
‘That’s something I’m going to try and change,’ he said. ‘I’m going to try and walk again.’
While the parents-of-three were initially devastated that their oldest son may never walk again, the 18-year-old said they felt better after realising he was determined to maintain a positive attitude.
‘I was just glad they weren’t angry at me for trying to flip off the rock,’ he laughed.
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow and his mum, Lisa, 45. His parents were initially devastated when they learned their son would probably never walk again
Last year, the talented sportsman (pictured right, with the ball) nominated himself in the AFL draft after winning two medals in the Hills Football League
‘They used to really loved watching me play sport and they can’t do that anymore, but they’re really supportive of everything I want to do.’
Last year, the talented sportsman nominated himself in the AFL draft after winning two medals in the Hills Football League.
He was also a gifted cricketer and played his first game with younger brothers Max, 16, and Gus, 15, the week before the accident.
‘I get a bit down because I’ll probably never be able to play football again, but the last two games I played I won the grand finals so I went out on a high,’ he said.
Once Mr Bilsborow leaves hospital in a few weeks he’ll head to a rehabilitation facility where he will learn hot to adjust to life with a severed spinal cord.
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow holding an AFL trophy with his friend and teammate James
Mr Bilsborow (pictured after winning a medal in the Hills Football League) was also a gifted cricketer
‘Everyone has been coming to visit me, and my girlfriend Ellen Dawson, 17, has just been so supportive and unreal,’ he said.
‘She’s been so strong for me and so sweet and it’s made life and this injury feel so much more positive – she’s my rock and I wouldn’t change her for the world.’
The talented mathematician also has big plans to study International Business at Adelaide University this year, with dreams of becoming a financial adviser or an investment banker.
In the meantime, he plans on using ‘all this spare time’ to learn a musical instrument and make plans for the future.
‘Even if I can’t play cricket with my mates, I’ll be able to sit and chill and hang out, go travelling and have fun on the weekends, which sounds perfect to me,’ he said.
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow with partner Ellen Dawson. The 18-year-old said Ms Dawson has been endlessly supportive
Pictured: Jake Bilsborow in hospital before watching a message from his idol Tom Atkins
On Sunday, the teen’s friends and girlfriend Ellen organised for his favourite Geelong Cats player Tom Atkins to send him a video message.
In a video, which was delivered to Mr Bilsborow as he lay in hospital, the midfielder offered to hand over his phone number so Jake could give him a call whenever he’s ‘feeling a bit down’.
‘Just heard the news, feel terrible for you mate. Can’t imagine what you’re going through,’ Atkins said.
‘I’ll pass on my number as well if you wanted to tee up a phone call.
‘It doesn’t doesn’t have to be a one-off thing, just whenever you might be feeling a bit down you can give me a buzz and we can have a chat and see how you’re going.’
Pictured: Mr Bilsborow (right) with friends Charlie (left) who helped organise for his favourite Geelong Cats player Tom Atkins to send him a video message.
Geelong Football club have also offered to send the teenager a Cats jumper signed by all players, including Atkins.
Mr Bilsborow said he felt ‘so special and loved’ after watching the video.
‘It helped me get through a lot of things. All that support and love, I sort of didn’t realise how much support and appreciation I’d get from the people I’ve had support from.’
He has not contacted Mr Atkins yet, but said he definitely plans to.
On Sunday, the teen received a special message from his hospital bed by his favourite Geelong Cats player Tom Atkins (pictured)
On Sunday, the teen’s friends and girlfriend Ellen (pictured with Mr Bilsborow) organised for his favourite Geelong Cats player Tom Atkins to send him a video message
A friend of the family made a GoFundMe page to help with medical costs, including making their home safe for a wheelchair and buying a car with hand controls.
On Saturday, Mr Bilsborow wrote a heartbreaking post on Facebook, alongside a a photo of his ‘happy place’ at a local cricket pitch.
‘The great Aldgate Oval laying here watching the under 14’s,’ he wrote.
‘Wish you were here with me mate, we may have to wait a few months but look forward to it, love you so much Jake.’