Michael Cole, 37, can be described in one word: devoted.
A native Memphian, Michael always knew that he wanted to serve his community and country as either a member of law enforcement or the military. It was a familiar career path that many of his friends and family chose. But beyond that, Michael knew that this was how he could truly make a difference.
Instead of choosing between the military and law enforcement, Michael found a way to do both. He currently serves in the Tennessee Army National Guard as a Sergeant in the military law enforcement sector, and works for the Shelby County Division of Corrections in a specialized unit know as CERT, or Corrections Emergency Response Team.
Every day, Michael ensures that inmates at the Shelby County Division of Corrections remain safe and that the facility remains secure. And one weekend each month, he trains with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
Held in either Alamo or Millington, TN, National Guard training is a mixture of physical and classroom work with one underlying goal: to ensure that members are always prepared to serve at a moment’s notice.
“It is a joy to serve my country,” he says. Despite the current climate of political unrest, Michael’s passion for his career is unwavering.
Back in 2013, Michael’s wife at the time was dealing with health issues that involved kidney failure and going through dialysis three times a week. Watching her pain and agony was unbearable.
“I hated to see her suffer,” he says. It motivated him to look into kidney donation. Sadly, he was not a viable option. However, they learned of kidney donor chains that could help them find a match.
According to UCLA Health, a kidney donor chain creates opportunities for endless recipient-donor pairings by starting with an altruistic person who wants to donate a kidney out of the goodness of his or her heart. That kidney is transplanted into a recipient who had a donor willing to give a kidney but was not a match. In April 2013, Michael underwent the surgery to remove one of his healthy kidneys in order save her. They both made a full recovery, and he was able to return to work.
“I wasn’t scared to undergo the procedure because it was done out of love,” he explains. Although Michael and his wife are no longer together, when asked if he had to do it all over again, Michael says that he would with no hesitation because his heart was in the right place.
Michael’s career choice has always required that he be physically fit. Strength has been essential, so he had remained focused on heavy weightlifting and packing on muscle. As the years passed though, he began to feel uncomfortable with the bulk on his frame and decided it was time for a change.
In 2019, Michael overhauled his fitness regimen and got serious about sculpting his physique with intention. Instead of trying to stay fit just for work, he made it into an important aspect of his everyday life.
Today, Michael’s routine consists of a daily 10K (6.23 mile) run, typically on the Shelby Farms Greenline. His miles are fueled by his newfound passion for cardio and of, course, his favorite running music. After, he transitions to a weightlifting routine consisting of moderate weights and resistance bands at ATC Fitness.
A daily 10K is some serious monthly mileage that would intimidate even the most season runners. But Michael is committed to staying fit and mobile as long as possible.
“When someone asks my age, I like them to be surprised,” he laughs.
Devotion isn’t easy. It takes commitment, patience, consistency, and true inspiration to keep you going. When it comes to his body, his family, and his country—Michael has never wavered to put in the hard work for the things he loves.
By Lucy Harrison
Photo by Tindall Stephens