February is Parent Recognition Month. Strengthening Families Washington, of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State, believes there is no better way to recognize a parent, grandparent, foster or adoptive parent than by acknowledging the numerous and impressive things they do to strengthen their family and those around them in their community.
Seattle’s Child is proud to sponsor the Washington Unsung Hero Awards, recognizing our everyday heroes and honoring the important role caregivers play in children’s lives. There are 28 nominees for the 28 days of February, and Seattle’s Child will highlight each and every one.
Congratulations to the Unsung Hero for February 19
Mike Cocke – Tacoma
I am nominating Mike Cocke for the Unsung Hero Award. Mike is a father to three amazing children (Michel, 17; Carter, 9; and Mae, 6), works full time and is the head basketball coach at Foss High School in Tacoma.
I met Mike back in 1995 through my best friend and his then girlfriend, Shannon. They were head over heels for each other and very quickly had their first child, Michel. Through the years they had breakups and make ups but eventually were married! It was a beautiful fall day and one of the happiest days of their lives. Soon after came their second child, Carter, and then their baby girl, Madison Mae. Life finally seemed complete. However, that perfectness quickly diminished when they found out Shannon had stage 3 cancer, and after about a year it turned to stage 4. Their lives were completely turned upside down. Throughout their lives Shannon had been the primary care provider, staying home with the kids while Mike was the sole source of income. With his wife's illness turning terminal Mike was now forced to step up and fill her shoes and to also care for her. From the outside looking in Mike seemed to hold it all together very well. He continued to work, got all the kids where they needed to be, and even though he fought every year to let it go, he continued coaching for Foss at her request. After many years battling, Shannon passed away this past May.
Through these past few months I have watched Mike step up and take life by the reigns for his children. There have been many challenges he has had to face, from talking to his kids about losing their mom to asking for help from friends and family members. I have seen a community come together and support this family like no other. There have been times that he has had to force his kids to go to their support group sessions while they have fought the whole way there. He has continued to find the strength every day to keep going, lean on support systems he has, and make sure his kids are getting what they need.
Today Mike continues to wake up, put on his big boy pants and face the day head on. He brings hope to his three children and teaches them that life is not easy but it does go on. This year Michel will leave for college. Many parents would want to selfishly keep their child home for not only moral support but for the physical help as well. Not Mike; he knows Michel needs to get an education and the only way for him to successfully do that is to push him out of the nest. He is an inspiration to all who know him. He serves others and makes sure life is beautiful for those he loves. No doubt Mike is the epitome of the five "protective factors," but he is truly the definition of selflessness. His children will have the best of everything because they have a strong, resilient and amazingly supportive Dad!
Nominator: Deanna Stewart
Singing the Praises of Our Unsung Heroes
Read about all of the wonderful, everyday heroes who have won Washington Unsung Hero Awards: seattleschild.com/2015-Unsung-Heroes.