Carol Cooke 

 

Carol, an effervescent woman who readily admits to being a sports fanatic and workaholic, lives with the challenge of multiple sclerosis.

This engaging lady was born and bred in Toronto, Canada where she fulfilled a life-long dream of following in the footsteps of her family and served as a member of the Toronto Police Force in Canada for fourteen years.  She had it all - an exciting and fulfilling career where she had worked in the undercover drug squad.
 
But life was about to change dramatically - for better and worse.  Carol fell in love with an Australian, married and moved half way around the world and settled in Melbourne.  After competing in Hobart at the Masters Swimming Nationals in 1998, she awoke one morning with disturbing balance problems and double vision, another all too common symptom of multiple sclerosis was rearing its ugly head.
 
Seventeen years ago after an array of tests, she was bluntly told at the age of thirty-seven "You have MS. Go home and get your affairs in order before you become incapacitated."  She was understandably devastated and the rest of the day was a blur.  Having only been married for three years and no immediate family around, her thoughts revolved around how she was going to cope with this unpredictable disease.
 
Fortunately, Carol found the determination and spirit to defy what this doctor had told her.  Although Carol had to leave full time employment, she found another passion to keep her busy.  Carol started the MS 24 Hour Mega Swim in 2001 and now has swims running in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. 
 
The MS 24 Hour Mega Swim raises money for our MS Go for Gold Scholarship program, which gives scholarships to people living with multiple sclerosis to follow a dream.  The swims have raised over $4 million which has also allowed us to initiate the MS Financial Assistance Scheme.
 
Carol was a national level swimmer in Canada while she was growing up and, with an unstoppable nature and a passion for sport - she took up competitive rowing in December of 2006. She made the Australian Rowing Team in 2008 and 2009, where she competed at the World Rowing Championships, coming away with a 6th place.  She has held a scholarship at the Victorian Institute of Sport since 2007 and has now taken up the sport of Para-cycling in the Trike class.

Carol was named on the Australia Para-cycling Team and competed at the 2012 London Paralympics and went on to earn a Gold Medal in the Mixed T1-T2 road Time Trial. In addition, Carol was named in the 2014 Australia Day Honours List being named a Member of the order of Australia (AM).

Carol received this award in recognition of her significant service to sport as a gold medalist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and for fundraising and representational roles with charitable healthcare organisations. 

Although living with the neverending symptoms of this unpredictable disease, Carol has the strength and courage to get up each day with a positive and motivated attitude.  She has learnt to live for today and not worry about what may or may not happen in the future.
 
Carol believes that, “Nothing is impossible if we dare to face our fears and believe in ourselves. The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
 
A fatalist by nature, Carol believes everything happens for a reason.  If she had not been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, there would be no 24 Hour Mega Swim and the programs that the money has gone to would not be running.  Suddenly everything seems to make sense.  Perhaps a grand plan is at work.
 
Carol is an articulate MS Ambassador and we commend her efforts to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis and is pleased to offer her insight as a motivational speaker.
 
Awards:

  • 2001 Rotary International
  • Shine on Award - Certificate of Commendation
  • 2003 The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
  • Named a Paul Harris Fellow
  • 2006 Herald Sun Pride of Australia Awards
  • Role Model Category
  • 2006 Victorian Masters Sportsperson of the Year
  • Victorian Sports Awards.
  • 2008 Included in the Inaugural Who’s Who in Victoria and the Who’s Who of Australian Women
  • 2009 John Studdy Award from MS Australia
  • 2010 Included in the Who’s Who of Australian Women “hope & courage”
  • 2011 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards – Commendation
  • 2011 12 Included in the Who’s Who of Australian Women
  • 2012 Gold Medalist London Paralympics London Paralympics
  • 2013 Dual World Champion – World Para Cycling Championships
  • 2013 Australian Female Para Cyclist of the Year
  • 2014 Order of Australia (AM)

What people have said about Carol's speaking spots:

  • Thanks for your effort – you are definitely making a big difference in public perception and understanding - 3rd & 4th Year Medical Students Northern Clinical School
  • Thought it was great to actually hear from someone who suffers from MS which put our knowledge into reality - Latrobe University School of Physiotherapy
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If you would like to book an MS Ambassador, please free-call MS Connect on 1800-042-138 or email: ambassadors-vic@ms.org.au (for VIC Ambassadors), ambassadors-nsw@ms.org.au (for NSW).

Call Us - 1800 042 138

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