DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — It is not everyday you are given the trip of a lifetime to the see the world’s best compete in the Olympics.
That is what happened to Rachelle Cook and her mother who are taking it all in stride.
“I don’t know if there are words to describe how excited I am,” said Cook.
On a hot summer day, the two carry a boat, named Perseverance, down to the Great Miami River.
For seven years, Rachelle has been an avid rower.
“Some of my friends were all trying a learn-to-row program and I thought I’d just decide to join them,” said Cook.
And, like a duck to water, she took to the sport.
But it is a passion which nearly ended after she was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia while in high school.
Doctors said, at the time, she could never play competitive sports again.
“Rachelle is the kid who doesn’t take ‘no’ well,” said Joleen Cook, Rachelle’s mother. “The doctors were like, ‘No sports, especially no sports in the big red box. You can’t do anything of those.’ And she was like, “But that’s my sport.'”
Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Rachelle and her mother were able to find an alternative.
At 16-years-old, she underwent surgery for her condition and continues to take medicine twice a day.
It was a small price to continue her dreams.
“I see her now growing in ways that I knew she could, but she didn’t know she could,” said Rachelle’s mother. “She’s still experiencing her passion and sharing her passion.”
Despite her struggles, she still rows the boat as both persevere to reach the next goal.
For Rachelle, that means hopefully one day competing for her country.
“I haven’t quite given up on that Olympic dream yet,” said Cook. “Come see in Tokyo 2020.”
Rachelle and her mother will leave for Rio on August 8 and will stay for about a week.
The trip will be paid for by the Make-A-Wish Foundation which granted Rachelle’s wish to head to the Olympics.
The highlight of the trip is expected to be seeing the rowing competition on August 12. Both Rachelle and her mother will will be celebrating a birthday the same day.