Eleven-year-old Gold Coast helicopter crash survivor Nicholas Tadros will be supporting the Panthers in the NRL grand final and barracking loudly for his hero Jarome Luai.
Nicholas lost his mother and was seriously injured in the Sea World helicopter crash on January 2 in which a total of four people died and nine were injured.
He broke almost every bone in his body in the accident and also had his right leg amputated.
When Nicholas awoke from the coma and found out the shattering news, he didn’t want to talk to anyone.
‘I felt like my body was just stranded out in space,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Nicholas Tadros didn’t want to talk to anybody after the Sea World helicopter crash
Nicholas’ hero Jarome Luai visited him in hospital and really made a difference
‘That’s where my mindset was, but in more of a darker place. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I wasn’t in the mood. The nurses would talk to me and I wouldn’t talk to them.’
His father Simon Tadros wanted to help his heartbroken son, so spoke to his brother-in-law Jack about ways to get him smiling again.
Jack reached out to Nicholas’ favourite footy team, the Penrith Panthers, to see if they could help – and Jarome Luai answered the call.
The effect the No. 6 had on the injured youngster was simply amazing.
‘After Jarome came, I started to talk to people again,’ Nicholas said.
‘I love him. When he came and visited me I felt like he was family to me. I hope I get to keep seeing him. It meant everything to me. More than ever.
‘One player would have been enough, but to have my favourite player, I was speechless.’
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has organised a corporate suite for Nicholas and his dad on Sunday for the decided between Penrith and the Broncos at Accor Stadium.
Nicholas and his father will be cheering loudly for Luai and the Panthers on Sunday
Nicholas’ mother Vanessa Tadros (pictured) passed away in the helicopter crash in January
Luai says that Nicholas is an inspiration and he’s proud he could have helped him through his darkest moments.
‘Big Nicky. He’s an inspiration, man,’ said the Panthers five-eighth.
‘He was going through some pretty tough times when I saw him. You appreciate what you have in moments like that.
‘To know that I had such an impact on his little life, it means so much.’
Luai has become a magnet for criticism in recent years, and Simon believes many fans have got the Panthers star wrong.
‘If you got the chance to sit down with Jarome and see what kind of person he is, he’s got a good heart,’ Simon said.
‘He’s a good person. You can’t please everybody. There’s always going to be a critic out there.
‘The fact that he took time out from his life to come and visit Nicholas, he didn’t have to do it. Nicholas will never forget and I’ll never forget it. It was a turning point in his life.’