RETURN OF A HERO: Cooper Roberts who was paralyzed in Highland Park massacre wheels himself to school

RETURN OF A HERO: Cooper Roberts who was paralyzed in Highland Park massacre wheels himself to school
Cooper Roberts on his first day of third grade at school as he gets used to moving around in a wheelchair after being injured in the Highland parade attack (Family handout/GoFundMe)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: One of the juvenile victims who was hurt in the July 4 shooting at the Highland Park parade is now attending school after making significant progress in his recuperation. After months of recovery, Cooper Roberts, an eight-year-old kid who was paralyzed when a gunman opened fire into a crowd at an Independence Day parade in a suburb outside of Chicago, went back to school.

Cooper, his twin brother Luke and his parents consider the achievement to be significant. “We were so nervous, we couldn't sleep the night before his first day back. We cried in the parking lot as he wheeled himself into the school, cried as we pulled out of the parking lot,” Cooper's parents said. Luke was also taken to the hospital following the incident because of lower-body shrapnel injuries. Doctors were able to remove part of the material but they were unable to remove it all and he was then released. According to ABC 7 in Chicago, the family announced in a statement on October 10 that both boys had begun third grade. Cooper has had a difficult time getting back into school. His family was doubtful he would return to school following the tragic incident because the youngster spent weeks in the hospital. However, Cooper accomplished what everyone thought was impossible. His parents were able to witness his return to school. “We were just a mess! He loved every minute, and his exact words were, ‘If I had not been shot, paralyzed, and had to be in a wheelchair, it would have been a perfect school day, but it was a really great day! I loved it,’” Keely and Jason Roberts, Cooper's parents, said. In order to avoid pushing him into the process before he's ready, his family suggested that he will gradually return to school. They believe that the requirement for ongoing care and counseling is a contributing factor in the sluggish rate of reintegration.

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(GoFundMe)
Cooper Roberts has returned to school while he still undergoes treatment of his injuries (GoFundMe)

The eight-year-old needed and still needs substantial medical attention for his variety of injuries, according to a GoFundMe set up for Cooper's recovery bills. Cooper was shot on July 4 and after being transported by life flight to a specialized hospital in Chicago, he endured a number of operations, was repeatedly intubated and put on a ventilator, went without food for days before being put on a liquid diet and is now dealing with a "major, tough, and ongoing" rehab regimen. Because his vertebrae was fractured, Cooper has a significant spinal cord injury. Since the spinal cord itself was severed in Cooper's case, paralysis from the waist down was determined to be the condition. For his parents and other members of his family, the battle has made every moment "remarkable." “It has been one of the most humbling and hopeful experiences of our lives to watch our precious 8-year-old, who has had so much cruelly and violently ripped away from him, his life needlessly and forever changed, so cheerfully and excitedly count down the days leading to his return to school,” Cooper's parents stated 

The boy made a significant improvement this week but his parents claim that he is still concerned about his immobility and how his diagnosis would affect his life. “These run across his mind and ours literally all day long, like an endless reel of worry,” Cooper's parents said. “We all are learning how to cope with these components of our new reality.” For Cooper, a life without monkey bars, gym class and playground equipment are just a few of the realities that must be faced. “Cooper's return to school is not without sadness and pain... He sees the things he cannot do,” his parents said. Everyone in his life is happy with how far he's gone, even though his parents claim that he felt helpless for a while over the past several months. “He has been so unbelievably brave and genuinely so overjoyed to return to school,” according to Cooper's parents. “It was a huge hurdle, and we pray his positive feelings can continue.” Cooper's GoFundMe page has served as both a location for people to donate money to the family in need and a way for people to watch the small boy's growth. In the months following the accident, Cooper's recovery has received more than $2 million in donations so far. 

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