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Pies, Bulldogs join forces to help spinal injury survivors

Beau Vernon with his Leongatha team in 2015 - AFL,Collingwood Magpies,Western Bulldogs
Beau Vernon with his Leongatha team in 2015

THE POWER of two is at the heart of the Robert Rose Foundation's new initiative in support of spinal cord injury survivors.

The 'Team 22' concept, which will be launched at the MCG on Friday night, is named after former Magpie Robert Rose, who became a quadriplegic in a car accident at age 22.

It also intersects with Rose's father and Collingwood legend Bob, who wore No.22 for the black and white, and is designed to promote the power of two people coming together to support one another.

Star Magpie Steele Sidebottom, former club captain Tony Shaw and Collingwood's Victorian Wheelchair Football League skipper Brendan Stroud – all No.22s – are Team 22 ambassadors.

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The foundation aims to raise $500,000 from the initiative to continue and increase its support, which extends to equipment and house/car modifications, one-on-one mental health care and participation opportunities.

Team 22 spokesperson Beau Vernon, who was left a quadriplegic from a football accident in 2012, told AFL.com.au a strong support network was crucial in his rehabilitation.

"I was very lucky to hurt myself playing football and received a lot of support from the wider football community," Vernon said.

"I feel like that's had a massive influence on my life, in a positive way, because it's unbelievably tough, for not only the person injured but their family as well.

"A lot of people aren't so lucky to have that support around them, and just to give them a bit of a kickstart and get them in a positive mind frame early after injuring themselves is of massive benefit."

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Vernon is married with two children and has coached able-bodied senior teams at Leongatha then Phillip Island to premierships the past two years in the West Gippsland Football League.

In his own words, Vernon, who is also a motivational speaker, is living "a really good life".

"It's great to still be involved in football, but I feel like my way of saying thank you to people who showed support early in my journey is to make the most of my life," he said.

"I'm so passionate about Team 22, because if people can have that same experience I had with that support around them, it does go such a long way in helping people live a good life."

The foundation has worked closely with the AFL and Friday night's competing teams, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs, to bring the Team 22 concept to life.

It will be an annual event on the football calendar and those interested in donating or who want more information should head to gates three and four at the MCG on the night.

People can also donate to the cause at the official Team 22 website