Welcome to the website of Australian-based author and motivational speaker, Cheryl Koenig.
At the age of just 12 years old, Cheryl’s son Jonathan was involved in a horrific car accident and suffered an extremely severe traumatic brain injury. Jonathan was in a coma for six weeks and was given very little chance of survival. Doctors predicted that if he did survive, he would be unable to 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.
The journey from that horrible day has been long and difficult, with road blocks at every turn. Not only has she had to fight to save her son, she's faced many struggles in her role as his carer.
Now, 15 years on, Jonathan has completed his HSC, a TAFE course and is currently learning to drive. He can walk well, and has just begun to run; he can snow ski; swim laps; play tennis and astounds many with his piano playing skills. All this as well as working five days a week in four part-time jobs.
Cheryl has written about her remarkable son in ‘Paper Cranes: A Mother’s Story of Hope, Courage and Determination’ which chronicles her family’s journey through despair, denial and anger, to eventual acceptance and healing. This is her third book, having already written two books in a voluntary capacity for NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation.
In 2006 she helped raise $160,000 for a new wheel-chair modified bus for Liverpool Hospital, and through proceeds from the book launch of 'Paper Cranes', she raised over $26,000 for services in the area of brain injury. She has also donated a significant amount from proceeds of sales of 'Paper Cranes' to various hospital foundations and non-government service providers.
In 2009, Cheryl was named the “2009 NSW WOMAN OF THE YEAR”. In his media release about the award, NSW Premier Mr Rees said:
“Cheryl Koenig has displayed remarkable compassion, courage and commitment following her son’s brain injury in a tragic car accident. Her story is an inspiration to all of us, delivering hope and strength to people with traumatic brain injury, their families and anyone who has experienced a tragic event. Not only has she cared for her son Jonathan for the past 11 years, she has tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of brain injury by writing books and volunteering much of her free time to improving brain injury services.”
Verity Firth, Minister for Women, said of Cheryl:
“Ms Koenig’s devotion to the cause of brain injury awareness is one of the finest examples of selfless citizenship I have ever seen. The Woman of the Year Award recognises the achievements of women and the leadership they provide as positive role models, particularly to younger women.”
'Paper Cranes', was released in March 2008 and is available from all good book stores.
For more information on Cheryl's books, or to purchase copies, please visit our books page.
Cheryl Koenig on 'Paper Cranes'
'Paper Cranes' 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 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.