The Gippsland football community has rallied in recent weeks in a bid to help Leongatha footballer Beau Vernon.
The Leongatha vice-captain sustained a serious spinal injury in an accidental collision during the Parrots’ round 10 match against Wonthaggi.
Vernon was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where he underwent surgery to repair two broken vertebrae.
He was later placed in an induced coma.
Leongatha’s coaching director Billy Clarke confirmed the 23 year-old had since been brought out of the coma and was moved from the intensive care unit last Monday.
“At this stage, the doctors are saying it is more than likely he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair,” Clarke said.
“He hasn’t got much movement at the moment, but his general health is pretty good and he’s coming off the breathing apparatus as well.
“He’s starting to take strides (to improve) and is positive in himself so everyone’s hoping for the best.”
Clarke expressed the feelings of “devastation” felt at the club, describing the former Gippsland Power player as a “very promising footballer” and a “great bloke”.
“Last year he won the club best and fairest… and this was his first year as vice-captain,” he said.
According to Clarke, Vernon’s family has close ties to the club playing alongside younger brother Zak, while father Daryl coached the side in 1993.
“On the bright side, his positivity will certainly give the club something,” Clarke said.
As Vernon’s accident happened on the sporting field, Clarke confirmed he had access to little insurance and nothing that would support him for an extended period.
“If it was a road accident or something it would be a different story,” Clarke said.
“He’ll most likely be covered for his medical bills while he’s in hospital, and for one month off work, but that’s it.”
Consequently the club is appealing to the community for support and Clarke said the club and Vernon’s family were grateful for the “overwhelming” response so far.
? Donations can be made to the Beau Vernon Fund using the following details
Beau Vernon Appeal
Westpac, BSB 033-237, ACC 179142