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Boy paralyzed in Highland Park shooting prepares to return to third grade with twin brother

Cooper Roberts became paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot in the chest while attending his town's July Fourth parade.

Boy paralyzed in Highland Park shooting prepares to return to third grade with twin brother
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe

Following nearly a month of multiple surgeries and treatments, an 8-year-old boy who was left paralyzed in the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, is gearing up to enter third grade with his twin brother.

Cooper Roberts became paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot in the chest while attending his town's July Fourth parade with his twin brother, Luke, and their parents, Jason and Keely Roberts. Although the bullet caused significant damage throughout his body, young Cooper has defeated the odds and is now prepared to start third grade at Braeside Elementary School in Highland Park along with Luke. He's expected to return to school in six to 12 weeks.


"This is a huge motivation for Cooper as he is excited to return to the classroom and see his friends," a spokesperson for the Roberts family said in a statement provided to Good Morning America. "He will likely return to classes for half-days and continue to participate in long-term outpatient physical and occupational therapy at AbiiltyLab for the part of the day." The resilient youngster is currently continuing his recovery at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago where he receives "physical and occupational therapy, as well as other rehabilitation and mental health services," his family said.


The boy's mother, Keely Roberts, revealed last month that during the shooting, a bullet went into Cooper's back and exited through his chest, "which did significant damage throughout his body, including his aorta, liver, esophagus and spinal cord." Roberts, who is a local school superintendent, was also shot in two parts of her leg by the suspected gunman, Robert "Bobby" Crimo III. She now requires ongoing orthopedic treatment. Cooper's twin, Luke, was hit by shrapnel. Although his physical injuries were minor, "what he has to carry is devastating," Roberts said.


"To hold a tourniquet on his mother's leg... to see his twin brother's lips go gray... to sit covered in our blood as good Samaritans provided the on-the-spot first-aid that kept us both alive... it's too much for anyone, much less an 8-year-old," she shared.

The mother-of-six thanked the parade goers who rushed to help her family in their time of need and all of the doctors and nurses who have cared for Cooper. "They saved my son's life," Roberts said. "On a holiday, when many were not in, they stepped up and made the impossible possible. There was someone who made sure to be available to run back and forth to a blood bank as needed for Cooper. Those surgeons spent six hours in the operating room refusing to let Cooper die—patch-working his liver, aorta, esophagus—again and again and again pouring blood transfusion after blood transfusion into his body. The fact that Cooper is still here with us today is a miracle."


Giving an update about the mental health condition of the kids in the aftermath of the traumatic incident, the family spokesperson said, "Cooper is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, including flashbacks that are disrupting his sleep." He also assured, "Both Cooper and Luke are participating in private counseling and other mental health services to support their healing from the emotional and psychological trauma of the shooting," adding that the Roberts are currently preparing for Cooper's rehabilitation needs once he returns home.


"They must explore options for long-term housing for their large family as the Roberts' 100-year-old home in Highland Park cannot be reconfigured to accommodate his rehabilitation needs for home-based therapies," the spokesperson said, adding the family is "grateful for and humbled by the outpouring of prayers and support" they have received. "They also need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle to support their ability to transport Cooper daily once released from inpatient care." A GoFundMe created to support the Roberts family with medical and rehabilitation expenses has raised nearly $2 million.

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