Twelve-year-old Sidney Cook has cerebral palsy, but he also has a need for speed.
This highly driven tween doesn’t let his disability slow him down and is currently one only a few riders in Australia to be racing with a disability, on his Raptor 90cc quad bike.
Sidney Cook was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just nine months old, but he is determined to live a healthy,normal adolescent life.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, one in 700 babies in Australia are born with the life-long condition, which is caused by damage to the developing brain.
Most symptoms of cerebral palsy present themselves within the first 12 to 18 months of life of a child’s life.
Despite the development of his symptoms, Sidney’s mother, Narelle Cook, says he has had a “can-do” attitude to life since he was very young.
Sidney has full mobility from the waist up, but as a result of his condition, he doesn’t have full mobility in his legs or ankle.
This meant that, unlike most young children, he wasn’t able to learn how to ride a bicycle.
Undaunted, his parents decided to buy him a mini electric quad bike when he was three years old instead, sparking a love of riding.
When he was six, Sidney’s electric quad bike was upgraded for a bigger electric quad bike, which allowed Sidney to ride around in his backyard on his own.
Then, three years later, Sidney progressed onto a Raptor 90cc, the quad bike that he both rides and races on track today.
For most motorsport competitors, their love of adrenalin is what makes their passion for the sport grow.
Sidney says he loves the adrenalin rush he gets from competing in the sport, but sometimes it’s about so much more than just winning.
“I do love the adrenalin rush that you get when you race, but it is also one of my only sources of freedom and independence,” he says.
Narelle Cook says her son has always been a high achiever, both in his academic studies and in his sporting efforts.
“I’ve always been pretty determined in all that I set my mind to,” Sidney says.
“I was even voted as school captain this year,” he says.
“I don’t see my cerebral palsy as a barrier.”
“I just want to prove to everyone that you can do whatever you set your mind to if you’re willing to put in the hard work and effort.”
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of opportunities for people with a disability to compete in motorsport racing.
Which is why Sidney’s parents were aware of the unlikelihood of their son taking part in quad bike racing.
Sidney’s father, Gary Cook, also rides quad bikes, and it was while he was looking for somewhere to race his quad bike last year that the family came across a very unique motorsports organisation, the Scenic Rim Motorsports Club.
The Scenic Rim Motorsports Club was started by club president Shannon Wright, whose goal was to create an all-inclusive club, for both casual riding and racing.
“We don’t hold anyone back in what they do,” he says.
Mr Wright says providing a high level of coaching to all Scenic Rim Motorsports Clubmembers is high on hispriority list.
“Whether they are male, female, or even if they have a disability, it is our job as a club to coach and train everyone to help them reach their full potential in the sport,” he says.
“Having so many disabled riders be a partof the Scenic Rim Motorsports club and seeing them out on track is a true inspiration to everyone who sees [them].”
“You may be having a rough day, but you just look at these [riders]… they’re doing it hard and they’re still out their making it happen and having the time of their lives while doing it.”
Sidney has been a member of the Scenic Rim Motorsports Club for more than a year and has formed strong bonds with the other members of the organisation.
“Everyone is really nice, and it’s a very inclusive environment to be around,” Sidney says.
“It doesn’t matter if you race, or if you’re just there to have fun… they [the club] welcome everyone.”
Narelle Cook says she is overwhelmed by the level of support that Sidney receives from the Scenic Rim Motorsports Club.
“From the first time we met members of the club we were surprised at how welcoming they were,” she says.
“I still remember club member Chevy Green taking time out of his day to ride with Sidney around the junior track, making sure he was OKand helping him out from the very first session.”
Sidney is already pushing towards achieving his next goal in quad-bike racing.
“I would really like to work on my strength and foot control so that one day I can ride a manual bike and race the 125cc quad,” Sidney says.
“For me to achieve this will take a lot of hard work, simply to get my feet strong enough to change gears,” he says.
“This might take two years, but it is a goal that I have set.”
And with Sidney’s prior achievements, we know that he is capable of reaching any goal he sets for himself.