Dom Punch's dream to drive after suffering spinal injury playing for Maitland Blacks in Newcastle Rugby Union second grade grand final

Dom Punch’s dream has been to drive again since he suffered a severe spinal injury a year ago.

That goal could become a reality for the 28-year-old through a modified, wheelchair-accessible van.

But that van comes with a price tag in the six figure range.

So his ex-employer The George Tavern at Green Hills organised a fundraiser to help his dream come to fruition.

Mr Punch dislocated his C5 and C6 vertebrae in a scrum while playing for the Maitland Blacks in September 2015.

He was in hospital for 10 months before he returned home to the Hunter in July.

To be able to drive again would be a huge thing for Mr Punch, as he wanted to be “less of a burden on family and friends.”

“It’s just a matter of increasing my independence,” he said. 

“It will open so many more doors for me.”

The George Tavern have supported Mr Punch through his recovery, and are running a raffle to raise money for the car.

The winner of the raffle will take home an $18,223 Hyundai Accent.

Tavern owner Janine Redman said that that an injury like Mr Punch’s hit home for many people, herself having two sons who have played rugby union.

“When you know someone that that’s happened to you want to help,” she said.

“Anything that we can do we want to do.”

Fundraising hasn’t been a tough task so far, as Ms Redman said community support was incredible.

“Dom’s an incredible guy, he doesn’t give up,” she said.

“He’s very well loved by all our staff and all our regulars.”

The fundraiser aims to raise $50,000, which will go directly towards a car for Mr Punch.

Raffle tickets are $20 and are available at The George Tavern, Maitland Rugby Club and Northern Suburbs Cricket Club.

Since his return home, Mr Punch has been adjusting to life at his family house in Stockton.

He recently travelled to Melbourne for nerve transfer surgery, and surgeons were pleased with the result.

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