After a series of surgeries and months of care and recovery, Cooper Roberts is back at home.
Cooper, 8, was celebrating Independence Day with his twin brother and their parents before violence broke out in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4. They were among scores of revelers gathered together to watch the annual Fourth of July parade when a gunman opened fire on the festivities, fatally striking seven people and wounding dozens more.
Cooper suffered a partially collapsed lung as well as a broken vertebrae, a severe spinal cord injury that has ultimately resulted in paralysis. In the months since the massacre, the boy’s family has provided regular updates on his often bumpy road to recovery. While they confessed at times feeling “hopeless, sad and angry,” Cooper’s loved ones revealed in a statement Thursday night that they now have reason to be cheerful: Cooper has returned home.
“We are at a total loss of words to express how filled with gratitude, love and wholeness we now feel given that we are able to finally have Cooper back at home,” the statement reads.
“There was a time, not all that long ago, where we were desperately and feverishly praying just for Cooper to live. To be able to have Cooper home and our family all reunited together again is such an amazing blessing.”
The family also detailed some of the hurdles Cooper has overcome, including being on a ventilator multiple times, daily rehabilitation, surgeries, a liquid diet and “weeks of pain and suffering, tears and questions, fear and agony, determination and fighting spirit.” They also acknowledged that Cooper’s challenges are far from over, noting that his new lifestyle comes with a massive learning curve and other adjustments.
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
The family home, for example, will now need to be accessible for a wheelchair.
“It’s yet another thing that keeps us up at night — how will we find, renovate or build a home that can work for our family again? Right now, Cooper is only able to access certain parts of the house — that is not right for him or for our family,” their statement said.
The 8-year-old is also surrounded by constant reminders of what his life used to be prior to the shooting since he returned home.
“Cooper has to deal on a daily basis with the sadness and grief of all the things he’s lost — all that he used to be able to do at his house, in his community, that he cannot do anymore … playgrounds he play on, sports he cannot physically play the way he used to, a backyard he cannot play in the same way he used to, a bike in the garage that sits idle, that we used to have to fight him to stop riding each day, his parents said.
But Cooper has refused to buckle under his grief. Instead, he’s taken up wheelchair tennis.
“Since the very start, Cooper has inspired us. He is brave and kind. He is tough as nails yet incredibly tender-hearted. He cares more about others well-being than his own. He loves the world … and it is because of the love and prayers you have all sent and continue to send to him that we believe he continues on a path of healing,” his parents said.
A verified GoFundMe campaign created in support of the family has raised more than $2 million.