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National handcycling champion and quadriplegic surfer


Life in a wheelchair at the age of 23 was not something Beau Vernon had ever contemplated.
Growing up on Phillip Island Beau Vernon rarely sat still. A gifted sportsman, he spent his childhood in the surf, athletics track, basketball court, and playing a number of other sports. Beau’s athleticism saw him excel across many sports, leading to state medals in athletics and representative basketball.
As the son of a former AFL footballer, Beau’s true passion lay on the football field. From a young age Beau was touted as an AFL prospect, winning club and league best and fairest awards before representing Gippsland Power in the elite TAC under 18 competition at the age of 16. When he helped Power to a premiership in 2005 Beau’s childhood dreams looked set to be realized. A split-second on-field collision changed all this. Beau’s trademark athleticism was lost forever. He was now a quadriplegic and would never use his legs or hands again.

Rather than let his limitations define him, Beau has spent the years since his injury relentlessly pursuing self-improvement and challenging every boundary put before him. Beau has been awarded a pride of Australia medal, learnt to live independently, married his long-term partner and is now a father of 3. He returned to work with the AFL, returned to university to complete his Bachelor of business. He is now a non-executive director with disability company Interact Australia and also works in the organisation, and also works for Monash Uni, AQA and the Robert Rose Foundation. Not content to let his sporting endeavors be a thing of the past, Beau has tried his hand at kayaking, fishing, golf, table tennis, surfing, wheelchair rugby as well as handcycling in which he has won 2 national championships in his category. Despite this full life, Beau could not let his lifetime relationship with football go and returned to the Leongatha Football club in 2015 as the head coach of the senior team. In his 5 years as Senior Head coach (3 at Leongatha and the past 2 seasons at Phillip Island) Beau has taken the team to 5 Grand Final appearances and 3 Premierships.
Since his accident Beau has contributed much of his time to motivating others with his story. Beau is a passionate and engaging motivational speaker with a focus on our most powerful tool… our mind, having a helpful mindset, silver linings, and providing others with practical advice for overcoming their own challenges while sharing his story.

Beau has an infectious personality with a very positive attitude & delivers a very gut wrenching, thought provoking, presentation, full of challenges but at the same time having a humble approach and accepting his circumstance and life in general. Municipal Works Operations Association

We highly recommend Beau for any other speaking engagements. He was a very engaging presence and our clients were very happy to have heard his story.

Pursuit Advisers

Kane Cornes was asked to respond on behalf of the other 12 life members and did so eloquently. A father would be forgiven for thinking it was the highlight of the night. But then came Beau Vernon.

Graham Cornes, AFL Legend

I chatted to staff and students and the opinion was that you were a huge hit and perfect for this activity. Your message was really clear and you related well to the students. It is easier to get to through to girls than to boys and you had the boys really engaged too. Your journey is inspiring.

Drouin Secondary College

We highly recommend Beau to any organisation wanting to raise awareness of disability internally, change attitudes or educate staff on the benefits of employing people with disability. He talks with passion and honesty and tells his story in an extremely genuine and sincere way.

National Disability Recruitment Coordinator
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