A trip of a lifetime has ended in devastation for a young Melbourne man who sustained serious spinal injuries in a horrific incident, leaving him bed-bound in an Italian hospital.
Cameron Wales was visiting the Italian city of Florence earlier this month when tragedy struck in a “freak accident”, leaving him with spinal damage to his C5 and C6 vertebrae.
The 21-year-old is now a quadriplegic and is unable to move from his waist down and hands, according to his aunt Christine Russell.
Cameron’s family says the diagnosis is devastating for the “strong and determined” young man, who now risks not being able to do what he loves most.
“(This includes) playing footy – Go the Mighty Dees – cricket and continuing his career as a carpenter,” Ms Russell said.
“Whichever road his recovery takes, we know there is a long and expensive path ahead for Cameron and his family … as they work towards him regaining as much independence as possible.”
The aunt described Cameron as someone who loves his family and mates and said the journey ahead for him will be an inspiration to others.
He is currently in an Italian hospital, according to his brother Brendan, and now faces the difficult challenge of making his way back home to start rehabilitation in Australia.
“Cameron’s road ahead is challenging and uncertain, but whatever it holds, he will need our support,” Ms Russell said.
She has set up a GoFundMe page for Cameron and his family, with loved ones and the community contributing a staggering $155,895 in as little as 24 hours from 1100 donations.
The family hope to raise at least $250,000 to cover the costs of bringing Cameron back home and to give him the best chances of succeeding with this new life challenge.
“We expect this financial support will be for his hospitalisation, and rehabilitation but also his new life beyond this devastating injury,” Ms Russell said on the GoFundMe page.
Cameron’s brother Brendan said in a Facebook post, the support his family has already received is “fantastic” and they are working around the clock to help bring their beloved brother and son home.
“Any donation will support this and go a long way in his journey,” Brendan wrote.
“Cammo always has a smile on his face and loves being around his mates and I know if anyone can get through this it will be him!!”
Another relative said Cameron is a “great young man” and the family will put any donations to “tremendous use”.
Meanwhile friend Cooper McNamara added: “I’ve never met someone who loves getting around his mates more than Cam or a family who supports people like the Wales’. It’s now our turn to show some love and get around Sheeta and support his family.”
“With everyone’s help, we can help get Cam back to Australia (to) live his best life. Together we can help to provide access to whatever rehabilitation he may need, a range of ongoing support, as well as a few beers for the spa.
“Any donation will make the world of difference to Cam, his family, his mates and myself.”
News.com.au has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Cameron’s family for comment.