Speakers Profile - Cheryl Koenig

2009 NSW Woman of the Year

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Cheryl Koenig was born and still resides in the southern suburbs of Sydney. She met her soul mate, Rob, whilst still in school and married at the age of just nineteen. Almost thirty years later she is still very happily married and has two treasured sons.

At the age of twelve Cheryl's son, Jonathan, was involved in a horrific car accident. He was given very little chance of survival and when he did miraculously pull through doctors predicted that he would most likely never walk, talk, or even eat again. Cheryl refused to accept this prognosis and set out on a relentless quest to save her son.

Her fervent hope that he would one day be well again was poignantly expressed by his many school friends who filled their school prayer room with hundreds of handmade paper cranes, symbols of hope and healing.

Now, ten years since his horrific accident, Jonathan can walk well, has just begun to run and is learning to drive. He can now ski, swim laps and play tennis and astounds many with his piano playing skills. All this as well as working five days a week in three part-time jobs!

Cheryl volunteers much of her free time to improve government policy and services in the area of brain injury. She is also passionate about advocating for carers to be validated for the important role they play in society. Currently Cheryl is a Consumer Representative on numerous committees.

Cheryl Koenig's recent book Paper Cranes, released in 2008, is two journeys in one story: the incredible journey of Jonathan's fight back to be the best he possibly can, and the emotional journey that I share as his mother � at first grieving for the talented son I lost, and then reaching a place of understanding and accepting him for all that he is now. It is only through writing of our �combined journeys' that I came to the realisation of how important it is to validate and accept an individual for who they are and whatever contribution they make to society. Hopefully this philosophy will be imparted onto the reader.

Naturally anyone who has suffered an accident or brain injury of any kind will find the book invaluable in offering hope at the end of the tunnel, however it is also sure to uplift and motivate anyone seeking inspiration in any walk of life as it demonstrates the power of family love, the compassion of friends and the kindness of strangers.