BACK home, but with more goals in mind, a smiling Jess Collins says she has a lot to be thankful for.
And tragedies, like the drowning of 16-year-old Kain Wratten at Bar Beach just last Sunday, only reinforce how fortunate she feels, despite the challenges ahead following her spinal cord injury last May.
The 24-year-old former Australian open water swimming champion is a quadriplegic after falling while surfing on the Gold Coast. Still conscious but unable to move, Collins was face down in the water believing she would drown before friend Kisane Irwin rescued her.
Six months later, after stints in intensive care in Brisbane and rehabilitation centres in Sydney, Collins returned home to The Junction on December 3 with her family.
Told by doctors she is unlikely to walk again, Collins has amazed friends and strangers alike with her strength, determination and positive attitude.
Her first words to her father after the injury were to be thankful she was still alive, a philosophy which has been highlighted by recent tragedies in the water.
“How horrific,” Collins said. “I think of his parents … at least Mum and Dad have me.