Amazing Women of the Suncoast: Carole Cotler

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Even when life was cruel, this week’s Amazing Woman of the Suncoast took what was handed to her and made something wonderful out of it.

A young girl meets a young man, they fall madly in love, and 3 months later they marry.

Carole and Marty expected smooth sailing ahead. But when they hit rough seas, Carole Cotler proved what an amazing woman she is.

Carole had just graduated from high school here and was just beginning her life journey. "I met Marty in 1954; we knew each other three months and that was it. We got married."

Soon they had a beautiful baby boy, Stephen, then two years later, Craig. "They didn't talk much. My mother in law kept saying there's something wrong with them because they aren't talking."

Doctors said the boys were fine, but when their 3rd son, Glenn, a perfectly normal little boy was born, they realized something was wrong with his two older brothers, and doctors sought answers. "First they went to an evaluation clinic, and they said they were retarded. We went to an neurologist and that’s when he said they have muscular dystrophy."

They were devastated, but determined to give their boys a normal a life as possible. "They were sweet kids. Steven was very bright; he liked to do model cars.”

They took long family vacations. "We went to Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park." The boys went swimming, boating, and graduated from a special high school. But Stephen was in a wheelchair by 16, and Craig by 18.

Caring for them was hard, but Carole also worked as a home health aide. "I did bath duty. Couldn’t do long term because I had to be home for Craig, but I was the bath lady."

Stephen died at 28, Craig at 47. They inspired their brother Glenn to become a special education teacher, and enriched Marty and Carole's life immensely. “No one ever knows what life has in store for you, but you just have to take what it is. You can't give up. I never did. I'm happy I had them.”

Carole Cotler just finished writing the book What Are The Odds about her family and their remarkable journey. And she's already working on her next book.

Carole and Marty just celebrated their 60th anniversary.