Young Cooper Wallweber was one of the heroes who came to Arlydia Bufford's rescue after she was attacked and could not pay her medical bills.
Trigger Warning: This report contains details of gun violence that readers may find disturbing
On June 22, volunteer firefighter Arlydia Bufford was dining with colleagues at a neighborhood Applebee's after completing an EMT training class when she was shot in the head. She worked as a waitress full-time and did not have health insurance, which meant she could not afford her treatment. Meanwhile, 5-year-old Cooper Wallweber was developing plans to set up a lemonade stand so he could buy replacement shoes for a pair he had ruined by mistake. When he and his family heard about Bufford and her struggle to repay her medical bills, he decided to pivot his business goals so he could raise money to help the young woman out.
His big sister Olivia Boyer shared, "Cooper decided to put the slime in his shoes, and it ruined them. We were just going to do a lemonade stand to raise money for new shoes just to show him different ways of working and earning things and teaching financial responsibility. But as soon as we found out about Arlydia on the news, that all changed." He didn't have a marketing plan or any business know-how, but Cooper did his absolute best to help out a member of his community. The sibling duo set up his stand in front of an elementary school near the family's home. Word spread quickly and business was booming. At the end of the day, the five-year-old had managed to raise over $3,000.
Bufford, who was supposed to attend college on a softball scholarship, chose to be a firefighter instead. She has been a firefighter with the Kinloch Protection Fire Department for six months and had responded to at least three calls already. Her mother Rebecca Bufford said in an interview with CNN, "She puts her all into everything she does and will give you the shirt off her back." With Cooper and the rest of the community's help, Bufford will be up and running in no time. For his impeccable fundraising, Cooper was sworn in as an honorary firefighter by the Kinloch Fire Protection District.
At present, the victim is improving. Nonetheless, she has a long road to recovery. "She's talking a little bit, but not much," her mother stated. "She's stable and in critical condition." While her daughter recovers, Rebecca expressed her awe of Cooper. She said, "You know, I wouldn't expect that from a 5-year-old. His parents and family have taught him very well." If, like this caring 5-year-old, you would like to help, you can make a donation to the family's GoFundMe account. Alternatively, you could send messages of encouragement directly to Bufford through the fire department's "Cards for Arlydia" initiative.