Dan Eley: Hope After an Accident


Dan Eley carrying the Olympic torch.
Donna Burgess, via Flickr

Nick Page and Liz Waid tell Dan Eley's story. After a terrible accident, he could not walk. Now, he is building a new life.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Nick Page.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Crowds of people filled the street. They were waving British flags. They were waiting, patient, but excited. Suddenly, the crowd began to cheer. A young man rolled past them in his wheelchair. He could not walk. Instead, his chair carried him forward. He was carrying the Olympic torch. The torch held a fire. People had carried it from Greece all around the world. Now it was on the last part of the trip to London and the Olympic Games.

Voice 2 

Dan Eley was the man in the wheelchair. In his community, many people know him. After a terrible accident, he did not know if he could survive. But now, he was making a new life for himself. Today’s Spotlight is on Dan Eley.

Voice 1 

Eley grew up in Britain. But as a young man, he became very interested in Latin America. He learned about the problems of street children. These children do not have homes or families. They live on the street.

Voice 2 

Eley wanted to help these children. So he moved to Latin America. He started in Guatemala. There, he worked with the organisation Casa Alianza. The head of this organization is Fred Shortland. He told the news organization Get Surrey,

Voice 3 

“His first job was on the streets. It is the most difficult job. He was excellent. He stayed with us for one year, and then went to work with smaller organizations in El Salvador.”

Voice 1 

After some time in El Salvador, he moved to Colombia. He came to love the country and its people. He started to teach in a school in Cali, the third largest city in Colombia. He told Spotlight,

Voice 4 

“I immediately fell in love with the place. Colombia is a wonderful country. I was welcomed, and made friends very quickly. In 2009, I started work as an English teacher.”

Voice 2 

But then his life changed forever. It was New Year’s Day 2010. Eley dived into a river. But the water was not deep enough. His head hit the bottom, and he broke his neck. Eley was paralyzed. He could not move any part of his body.

Voice 1 

Eley stayed in a small village hospital for three days. Then, he moved to a larger hospital in Bogota. Eley struggled to breathe. His heart was struggling too. He was very sick. Worse, Eley did not want to live anymore.

Voice 2 

Eley needed to return to England. But medical transport costs a lot of money. For Eley, the trip would cost 90,000 pounds. Eley’s family could not pay. But friends in England began to work together. They started a project on the internet to raise money. Within five weeks, they had all the money they needed. Eley made the trip home. He told Spotlight,

Voice 4 

“At that time I felt very bad, and I was aware of this going on around me and it was something that gave me a lot of strength. The amount of people, including people that I did not know – that was an amazing thing. I felt the warmth and love and that greatness of human nature. It was very moving and very encouraging at a very difficult time.”

Voice 1 

For almost a year Eley stayed in a hospital for paralysed people. There, Eley received specialized treatment. It was designed to help him move more, and gain strength. He exercised every day. He still could not move his legs. And his arms were still very weak. But he began to feel more hope about his future.

Voice 2 

Finally, at the end of 2010, Eley moved out of the hospital. He returned to his family’s town of Godalming. He moved into a home for people with disabilities. There he continued with his exercises. He started using an exercise bicycle. Bicycles usually travel on two wheels. This bicycle did not move. It was just for exercise. The bicycle used electricity to help Eley’s legs move. Sometimes he also used his arms to move the pedals. This exercise helped Dan get stronger. As he bicycled, he had more movement in his arms and hands. He even used this exercise to raise money for research into paralysis treatment.

Voice 1 

The bicycling project was only the beginning for Eley. He had not forgotten his friends in Colombia. His dream was to go back. He told Spotlight,

Voice 4 

“People think I am crazy actually, because I wanted to go back a few months after the accident. I felt that, although I had had a tragic accident there, that it had changed me, the country and also Cali.”

Voice 2 

Finally, in October 2011, Eley travelled back to Colombia. With his mother, he returned to the hospital he stayed in after his accident. He thanked the doctors and nurses there. And he even got new treatment.

Voice 1 

He also met with an organisation called FEDUT - the Foundation for Education for All. It trains young people who do not have an education. The young people learn computer skills. They also learn how to manage money for businesses. These two skills are in high demand in Colombia. By getting training in these areas, the young people can get jobs. This was just the kind of work Eley had done when he lived in Latin America. He decided that he would continue to support this work.

Voice 2 

When Eley returned home he set up the Dan Eley Foundation. This organisation supports FEDUT and other similar organisations. He said,

Voice 4 

“I started to think about ways that I could give back to this country. It has given me so much in help. There is the wonderful welcome and the kindness of the people, but then there is a very high level of poverty in the city. Many young people are working in informal work on the streets when they could be at school.”

Voice 1 

By then, however, another exciting thing was waiting for Eley. The local government had chosen him to carry the Olympic torch. He was surprised but proud. In his community, many people knew him. And carrying the torch was a way for him to thank the many people who had supported him.

Voice 2 

Eley’s life changed forever after his accident. But he is making a new life, with the support of his friends and community. He is continuing his work in encouraging and building up young people. And he has continued his connection to the people of Colombia. His hope for the future shows that life does not have to end after a tragedy.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Shelagh Godwin. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Dan Eley: Hope After an Accident’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have your friends ever helped you get through a difficult experience? Have you ever been a friend helping someone else get through something terrible?

Comments


humble71's avatar
humble71
said on October 23, 2012

He is a great example for people all around the world. Problems like an accident can happen to anyone but only the strength and support in faith can help see new ways at the future.  He said a lot people who he didn’t know very well helped him and it was a sign that the good actions he did before had fruit in the future and he reaped these fruits in trouble times.
Thanks Spotlight family for producing this good example of life for all of us.
Good bye,
Augusto Lenin

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on October 23, 2012

His effort and his faith is examples of superation.
Good bye,
Luis Piedra

Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on October 23, 2012

One more time I see a person like Eley that He is a fighter He didn’t give up to live
instead. He will continue supporting a good job. We have different ways to help to the poorer people. They need us.  Listen singers, soccer players, bankers.

Great topic

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on December 18, 2013

Eley is an admirable man with the astonishing strenght of will, the endless patience. He was lucky there were many people who supported him and helped him start making a new life after his terrible tragedy. And in spite of his disability he even wanted to continue working for the young poor people who are living in the bad conditions without any education.
Thanks Spotlight for excellent story!

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on January 09, 2020

We love one another in life. We help one another in life. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We die for beautiful good things. We die away in life every day. Difficulties and sufferings make us die away. We are willing to die away in life. We wish about a beautiful good world. We love one another in life. We help one another in life. Love helps us exist. Love helps us live our lives well.

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Honneur
said on January 10, 2020

Actually, I never had help for anything from anyone. All I got in life was for my own effort and commitment and I am very proud of this. But I admire people who makes like Dan Eley. In Brazil we use to say make a lemmonade from a lemmon.