When someone is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it is often one of, if not the biggest challenge they will face in their life. Two Paralympians who proudly represented Australia in Rio prove that MS need not stop you from reaching future goals.
You may have read about Carol Cooke’s (pictured left) achievements already. You may not, however, know what brought her to compete in the Paralympics.
Carol was not only a national level swimmer and rower, but also served as a member of the Toronto Police Force in Canada for 14 years. She was shocked to then be told, "you have MS - go home and get your affairs in order before you become incapacitated."
This has not stopped Carol from reaching the heights of her sport; two-time number one ranking and three-time World Champion in Road Cycling T2.
An Ambassador for MS, Carol is also a Motivational Speaker and Author. Last week, in an unbelievable effort, Carol won gold in both the Road race and Road time trial T2!
Also competing at the Paralympics was Katie Umback. (pictured right)
A professional horse trainer and national level rider, Katie Umback was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS and told that within 10 years she would most likely be confined to a wheelchair.
After teaching herself to ride all over again after she was left her with numbness and loss of feeling in 70% of her body, Katie and her horse, Marquis competed in both the Individual, placing 8th, and Team Championship III, in which Australia finished 12th, both fantastic achievements.
While naturally we appreciate that it’s not everyone’s journey to ride in Rio, MS Australia hopes that Katie and Carol’s stories can inspire everyone and demonstrate that adversities can be overcome, and goals can be achieved, be them big or small.
As our nation celebrates our Paralympians’ achievements, and these athletes receive well-deserved coverage across major media outlets, we also ask for that support to continue now that the team has returned to home shores.
With the NDIS rolling out this year, and all the complexities and requirements and involved, let’s not forget that all people with disabilities deserve the acceptance and support of our nation, whether it’s an Olympic year or not.