MOTHER'S LOVE

Reporter: Marguerite McKinnon

Jonathan Koenig is a walking contradiction; surviving against the odds, and proving so many doctors wrong. Jonathan at age 11, a well liked boy who was good at everything... sports, school and playing music.

11 years ago, everything changed. A car coming too fast down the hill, hit Jonathan and threw him 20 metres in the air. It happened just seconds after Jonathan's father Robert spoke to him on the side of the road before turning into their street. "I was cooking mexican on the stove and it was about twenty past five when the doorbell started ringing frantically and I opened it to see the little boy next door, 11 year-old boy Josh with his arms flying around and almost hysterical shouting, "Cheryl come quick! Jono's been hit by a car" recalls Cheryl.

Doctors told Robert and Cheryl their son would die, and if he survived he'd be a vegetable. "People around me in the waiting room were crying and I remember saying, "don't cry! Why are you crying? He's going to be alright." And I was just in this state of disbelief really and what had happened" said Cheryl.

Jonathan survived but his future was bleak. Cheryl's refusal to believe the worst began an epic journey. Like a new baby - Jonathan's family taught him to do everything again.Even learning to talk, all this, while specialists told them they were wasting their time.

"We were approaching four months then when he started to moan and I kept saying to her, "when do you think he'll speak?" and she just kept shaking her head and saying I don't think he'll speak." And if he gets to five months and he hasn't spoken, 98% of children will never speak again." So those words just hung in me like a black curtain and I thought, I've got to do something about this."

"I was at work, those few hours that I went in to do, we had a business so I went for only about four hours. The phone rings.. pick up..Cheryl said, "there's someone who wants to say hello." It was Jonathan. [ What did he say to you?] Hi Dad I love you." yeah." says Robert.

"There's no way in the world he'd be where he is now if it wasn't for the family support he has." Melbourne physiotherapist Gavin Williams helped Jonathan achieve what many thought was impossible.

"Mum is the best mum in the world. That should cover a lot of countries." And Dad? "Yeah. He's better than all of the dads through this country" says Jonathan.

Today, Jonathan is still proving people wrong. Everytime Jonathan drives, he passes the place where he was hit by a car in May 11 years ago.

"A lot of people say that is very amazing but I mean I just like to get out there on the open roads." But that's not all... Jonathan has four part-time jobs with brother Chris, life is inching closer to normal.

Now mum has written the family's inspiring story...the title Paper Cranes comes from the hundreds of paper cranes Jonathan's class made for him at school, to help him get well. Surrounded by true believers, the Koenig's fundraising night for brain injury services raised $25,000.

"We've reached a very very happy place now and we feel that we're blessed and we're lucky" says Cheryl.

Cheryl Koenig's book is called " Paper Cranes - A mother's story of hope, courage and determination" and is published by Exisle Publishing Australia

Tel: (02) 4998 3327

BRIAN INJURY ASSOCIATION NSW

Tel: (02) 9868 5261

Website: www.biansw.org.au