Less than two weeks after his neck was broken in a lifting tackle, Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon has announced his engagement to girlfriend Teigan Power and declared he will walk her down the aisle.
In an uplifiting turn to the terrible incident, McKinnon on Sunday night posted a photograph of himself and his girlfriend to Instagram along with a message of thanks to all his supporters.
He ended the post by announcing his engagement to his girlfriend of three years and promising to walk her down the aisle.
The popular 22-year-old from Aberdeen suffered a career-ending spinal injury against the Melbourne Storm two weeks ago.
McKinnon remains in Melbourne's The Alfred hospital in a serious but stable condition with a spinal injury.
He was brought out of an induced coma last Sunday following surgery for damage to his C4 and C5 vertebrae and has been conscious since.
He has some movement in his right arm, but no movement in his left arm or legs.
McKinnon has been stoic, while his family have reminded people the young man they love is a fighter.
McKinnon chose Instagram to make his first public statement since suffering the horrific injury.
''This girl is my soldier, I am truly overwhelmed with the support and wishes from everybody in the rugby league society and the community at large,'' McKinnon wrote.
''Your ongoing support will never be forgotten. P.S when life throws you struggles respond with a smile. So happy to announce Teigan and my engagement.''
McKinnon concluded the post with a pair of hashtags: #throughthickandthin #iwillwalkherdowntheaisle.
Another hashtag - #riseforalex - has been trending on social media as McKinnon continues to recover from the two fractured vertebrae and spinal injuries he suffered in a three-man lifting tackle against the Storm.
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) April 6, 2014
Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean was handed a seven-week ban for the dangerous throw.
A country boy at heart from a proud rugby league town, details about McKinnon's character and attitude have been revealed since his injury.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett said McKinnon was more like a son, describing a loyal and selfless young man.
''We play a tough game and Alex is a tough young man. Nobody's fool. He doesn't walk around trying to show he's tough, but he is. And I've always loved his humility,'' Bennett wrote in a recent column.
''Never seen him drunk. Not once. Never seen him do anything stupid. No one's ever talked about Alex like that.''
The message and photograph were ''liked'' by hundreds of Instagram users on Sunday night and posted onto Twitter were hundreds more users - including the Newcastle Knights official account - began sending their congratulations.
''Wow even through all the hardships that Alex Mckinnon has been facing he has found some happiness! Congrats on his engagement! #RiseforAlex,'' one Twitter user wrote.
''Great to hear that Alex McKinnon and his girlfriend are now engaged. A positive from a terrible situation,'' another person wrote.
''Congrats on the engagement @mckinnon92 and Teigan. You sir are a real inspiration, keep up the good work,'' another wrote.
Originally from Denman, Power is studying primary school teaching at the University of Newcastle and working at a Newcastle pub.
McKinnon's last Twitter post from February says Ms Power gave him a voucher to skydive over Wollongong Beach.
''Sometimes I suppose you've got to face your fears,'' McKinnon wrote.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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