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David’s on the road again!

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Bearing up: David Goonewardene with the Warwick Academy mascot before the End-to-End Walk.

A year ago, David Goonewardene was in a coma in a Boston hospital.

The teenager had been a passenger in a car that smashed into a wall on Knapton Hill one night in March, 2021.

David suffered horrific brain injuries in the crash, and there were fears he would not survive. And if he did, would he be able to even walk again?

On Saturday the 17-year-old Warwick Academy student emphatically answered that question by taking part in – and completing – the Convex End-to-End Walk.

Leader of the pack: David Goonewardene, right, sets off on his journey (Photograph by Gareth Finighan)

Accompanied by a team of classmates, staff, and supporters, David set out from the school’s campus on Middle Road at 9.30am.

Before heading out, David, who has spent the last year in recovery, was unsure if he would be able to complete the course.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I used to cycle this route, but have never walked it. It’s very much a case of unchartered territory.”

But less than six hours later, he was crossing the finish line at Dockyard.

David’s mother, Helen Cart, described the event as “a milestone” in her son’s recovery.

Speaking as her son set off on his marathon hike, she said: “David was in a coma for about six weeks after the accident.

He was in ICU here for a month and then medevaced out, spending two weeks in Boston before going to Spaulding rehab for a month.

“We used to bike this trail and his original intent today was to bike it. But he’s still ataxic – he doesn’t have any coordination. He wouldn’t have been able to manage the Railway Trail and so we decided to walk it instead.”

“I’m just hoping that he gets as far as he can get. He wants to finish it and all his therapists have said ‘well let him do it and see what his endurance is like’, but I just don’t know if he’ll make it to the end – but he’s very determined to get there. It’s a huge milestone for him.

David Goonewardene completes the End to End with Warwick Academy colleagues

David’s father, Raj Goonewardene, also expressed pride in his son.

Mr Goonewardene said: “I don’t think words can describe what today means. From the time that we found out about the accident to where David is now ... looking at him in ICU where he couldn’t even respond to anything ...

“ I did not know from one day to the next whether he would be alive. It was that strong of a feeling I had. We were devastated.

“But every little bit of therapy he had has really helped him come through. To see him now actually walking ... that’s monumental.

“He is a role model to any person. He has fought so hard. I’m not sure if I would have had the strength to fight as hard has he has.”

David Goonewardene and the Warwick Academy End-to-End group

Last night Ms Cart said: “Yesterday was a very emotional day. This time a year ago, we were uncertain of what the future held for David.

“We’ve been with him every step of the way as he’s had to re-learn to walk and do every day tasks that you and I take for granted.

“Despite blisters and cramps, David persevered yesterday without a single complaint and finished what he set out to achieve. He is my hero. There isn’t a single thing we wouldn’t do for him.”

Ms Cart also praised her son’s medical team and his school.

She said: “They have stood by David. I am actually at a loss for words.”

Last night a spokesman for Warwick Academy said it had been “an incredibly emotional day” to see David complete the walk.

David Horan, the school’s principal, added: “David's accomplishment to complete the walk from 'Warwick Academy to End' is nothing short of remarkable.

“As a school we are very proud of him. He is a determined young man and I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for him.

“It was heart-warming to see the tremendous support along the way from family, friends and the broader community, as well as several Warwick Academy students and staff walking every step with David. It reminds us of all that is good in people and these types of community events.”

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Published May 10, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated May 10, 2022 at 7:58 am)

David’s on the road again!

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