Scholar. Mentor. World Class Athlete.
There does not appear to be much that Mary Kate Cooper cannot do when she sets her mind to it. She embodies a “can-do” spirit that not only propels her towards excellence but lifts the spirits of those around her
“One thing I learned in life is you cannot control the situations you face, but you can control how you react to them,” she writes.
Mary Kate is a below-the-knee amputee from birth who has only known life with a prosthetic leg.
But rather than limit her, Mary Kate pushes those limits. Breaks them. She sets the bar high, reaches it, and then sets it even higher.
In addition to maintain a weighted 4.7 GPA in accelerated coursework, Mary Kate still finds time to mentor other children with disabilities while competing athletically at the highest levels of Paralympic sport. In addition to earning All-American High School status in track and field from the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Olympic Committee, Mary Kate has become a top swimmer, competing on the international level in the Can-Am Swimming Open and she was one of the few athletes to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Trials in more than one sport. In her best swimming event, she finished 2016 ranked 36th in the world. Mary Kate also actively volunteers to mentor numerous other junior amputees, and she was recognized for her efforts with the Spirit of Excellence Award at the National Junior Disability Championship.
About life as a military child, Mary Kate writes, “Being a Military Kid is a very unique opportunity that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have been able to travel and meet amazing people all over the country. Additionally, being part of the military is like being part of a family, everyone has each other’s back.”
“I can only speak for myself, and I have been very lucky to have met kind, supportive people wherever we have been stationed. I do believe it’s important for all Americans to recognize, that in addition to the active duty member that serves, the entire family makes a commitment and sacrifices as well.”
Mary Kate credits her parents, Captain Thomas Cooper and Lynn Cooper, for teaching her to never give up. “We are very close because of all the moves we have done. No matter how I am feeling I can always count on my family to be there and cheer me up.”
As is her way, Mary Kate thinks of others when discussing the honor of representing the Coast Guard as Military Child of The Year ® “I think everyone goes through hard times and you could find a reason to give every military child an award. Overall, I am excited and honored to have been chosen to represent the United States Coast Guard.”
Operation Homefront would like to thank presenting sponsor, United Technologies, for their support of Military Child of the Year®. Support from companies like United Technologies and all of our MCOY sponsors is invaluable in helping us showing appreciation for the contributions our military families make to our communities.