Author of 3 books – Recent Community Work /Consumer Representation:
- Council Member – NSW Govt Carer Advisory Council
- Consumer Participant for NSW Health ACI Brain Injury Rehabilitation Directorate – metropolitan area
- Consumer Participant for NSW Health ACI Brain Injury Rehabilitation Directorate – rural/regional NSW
- Carer Representative for Carers NSW
- Advisory Panel Member for NSW Brain Injury Association’s Mentoring Project
- Fundraising committee for Liverpool Brain Injury Hospital
- Ambassador for ‘The Friendship Foundation’ – a not-for-profit organisation designed to assist carers and people who are socially disadvantaged due to chronic illness or injury.
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 given very little chance of survival. Doctors predicted that if he did survive he would be unable to walk or talk ever again. Now, 14 years on Jonathan has completed his HSC and a TAFE course and is currently learning to drive. He can walk well, and can even 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. Cheryl volunteers much of her free time assisting in development of government policy and services in the health care arena, as well as a huge commitment to fundraising. In 2006 she helped raise $160,000 for a new wheel-chair modified bus for Liverpool Hospital and from the fundraising 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.
Cheryl often gives her time to guest speak at various Medical Conferences; Rotary & other Community Groups; Carer Support Groups and/or Disability Groups; including training days for clinical networks or those who work in the disability arena.
In his media release about the 2009 Woman of the Year 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 Jonathon 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.”
CHERYL & JONO www.cherylkoenig.com