Michael is a Dinky Di Aussie, 39 years old, currently holding the title of the Worlds most Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. Michael is also an Ambassador of the NSW Asthma Foundation, an Ambassador for Lake Macquarie and the Citizen of the year.
Michael also suffers chronic asthma and he believes the key to asthma management is to stay fit and healthy. He has been branded as an extreme sportsman and has an Australian sports boat sailing title, an Australian penny-farthing sprint title and a NSW plus Australian and Now a World Volunteer Title. It is often said that Michael Cowan is an inspiration to anyone he has ever met.
In 2007 Michael rode a Unicycle (one wheel bike) 21kms in record time without falling off and raised $10,000 for charity. It was an enormous success and spurred him on to bigger challenges.
In 2008 he started the biggest challenge of them all. If you have ever tried to buy a penny -farthing (probably not) you will soon find that there are none to buy. Michael had to hand build TWO 1880S STYLE 52 INCH PENNY FARTHINGS from the ground up in order to initiate his next challenge. Michael intended to ride one of the bikes across NSW travelling up to 180kms per day over 9 days to reach his goal. He trained extensively for two years in boxing and cycling before he believed he was ready. In Oct 2009 Michael started off on the challenge. In his wildest dreams he had never imagined the pain and agony he was going to suffer, nor did he have any idea on how a simple idea was going to change his life. It was not meant to be as hard as it was. In one week he travelled over 1000kms on a heavy bike with no brakes, no gears , no suspension , solid rubber tyres and a rock hard leather saddle.
Michael raised over 100,000 dollars for charity. He attended 16 evening news interviews, appeared in 24 newspaper articles across NSW, called into Parliament in Canberra to visit the minister for health, talked live on radio 32 times, appeared on breakfast TV, appeared as a guest speaker at the National Asthma Summit and called into several schools along the way to speak to 1000s of children about the importance of diet and exercise. All in just nine days .
Michael suffered severe tissue damage to both of his Achilles tendons. He developed a slur and a dribble along the way from sheer exhaustion. His crew believed he had suffered a stroke. With sheer determination, and self-belief he made it. Michael does what he does because he has a passion for helping charity and not because he wants to be recognized for it. To be recognized on the world stage as the worlds first Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser certainly was an unexpected bonus. It now has given Michael the power to spread his message on asthma management and finally make an income for his family as they truly deserve.
As a Husband, a father of three beautiful girls aged 6,10 and 11, and having a mortgage it has been a real struggle balancing his volunteering life with general life financially. Michael pulled his family together as they worked as a team to provide the food on the table and save their mortgage. His family stuck by him as they knew he was doing it for the good of others and there are many people out there worse off than them.
Michael’s wife and kids often joke about writing a cookbook called, 1001 things you can make out of mince. As that is the only real meat they could afford. His family have missed out on many of the finer things in life but Michael believes he has more than succeeded as he has taught them tremendous family values, and respect. In Michael’s children’s eyes he is their superman. To have your family proud of your achievements is better than any award.
Michael has spoken at many occasions including parliament as a guest for lunch, the opera house VIP room, on stage in front of 50,000 at the opera in the domain any many more events. He speaks from the heart with a rawness that everyone can connect with. His stories of adversity, pain and self-belief will make you laugh and cry and will leave you wondering what makes him tick.
Michael loves to take his 52 inch penny farting ( proud mary ) along to his talks as its presence alone gives you a strong impression that there are some great stories to be told.