cooper roberts

8-Year-Old Paralyzed in 4th of July Parade Mass Shooting Finally Returns Home

"We are at a total loss of words to express how filled with gratitude, love and wholeness we now feel," the Roberts family wrote

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Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy paralyzed after being shot by a gunman who opened fire on Fourth of July parade-goers in Highland Park, has finally reached a major milestone in his recovery, his family announced Thursday.

He is 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," his parents said in a statement. "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 said Cooper has finally been reunited with his twin brother Luke and the pair can "resume being one another's very best playmates."

"You take for granted how wonderful it is to be able to have all your children together and how important they are to each other until it is taken away," the Roberts family wrote. "Having our children reunited as a sibling unit and knowing that they can be together whenever they need or want to, is so special to us and to Cooper. They have held each other up and through so much during what has been the most horrific time in their lives. They have seen, in a way they never had before, just how much they enrich each other’s lives and how deep their love for one another truly is."

Cooper Roberts
Jason and Keely Roberts
Cooper Roberts on his first day back home with his family.

Cooper was with family when a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating in Highland Park, Illinois, and struck him in the abdomen. Seven people died in the shooting and 48 others were injured. As a result of his gunshot wound, Cooper sustained broken vertebrae, a severe spinal cord injury, and became paralyzed.

The uplifting news comes just weeks after the Roberts family shared an "unfortunate" update on Cooper's recovery, including concerns over short-term memory loss, issues with word recovery, and loss of acuity around fine motor skills.

Now, as he heads home, his family said they continue to "face a heartbreakingly cruel and unfair road ahead" as they adjust to a new normal.

"The transition to having Cooper’s extensive medical needs being addressed at home vs. at the hospital or rehabilitation clinic is a gigantic learning curve for all of us. And, now that he is home, Cooper has to deal on a daily basis with the sadness and grief of recognizing 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 cannot 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… even much of his own home which he cannot access," the family wrote. "For all the love that he has come back to, there are so many painful reminders of what he has lost. There is no word that we know of that adequately describes the level of pain you feel or that Cooper feels when he sees his bike he can no longer ride or his old soccer jersey...heartbreaking, agonizing, despair – there is just not a painful enough description."

The transition, they said, has been and will continue to be difficult, especially as they begin to navigate the challenges of renovating or building a new home that can work for Cooper. But they remain optimistic.

"We choose to focus on what we do have," the family said. "Cooper is alive and home and our sweet and lovely athletic little boy has made up his mind that he is going to figure out new ways to play sports."

Among those sports are wheelchair tennis, which Cooper has already begun to experience and his brother Luke plans to join him for.

"He and Luke are each excited to really learn to play the game and will hopefully play both together and individually for years to come. We have no doubt Cooper will be wicked awesome at tennis…and any other sport he decides to play. It will just be different," the family said.

Last month, family members celebrated that Cooper was removed from his IV pain medicine and was able to eat the solid foods he'd been craving.

Cooper also recently received a "special visit" from former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who recovered from a spinal cord injury in 2017.

"Ryan was transparent, authentic, genuine and gracious in sharing insights with us about his path to recovery," the family said. "We are so grateful for Ryan’s motivational words and great kindness in spending time with Cooper and Luke."

More than $1.7 million has been raised for Cooper's recovery via a GoFundMe page, according to the family.

Read the family's full letter below:

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.  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. He is able to live once again with his twin brother, Luke, and resume being one another’s very best playmates. You take for granted how wonderful it is to be able to have all your children together and how important they are to each other until it is taken away.  Having our children reunited as a sibling unit and knowing that they can be together whenever they need or want to, is so special to us and to Cooper.  They have held each other up and through so much during what has been the most horrific time in their lives. They have seen, in a way they never had before, just how much they enrich each other’s lives and how deep their love for one another truly is.  It has been an honor and a privilege as their parents to watch all six of them lean on and lift each other up throughout this devastating ordeal.  We are so proud of the human beings that they are, and Cooper is so happy to be home with them.

We know that Cooper continues to face a heartbreakingly cruel and unfair road ahead.  The transition to having Cooper’s extensive medical needs being addressed at home vs. at the hospital or rehabilitation clinic is a gigantic learning curve for all of us. And, now that he is home, Cooper has to deal on a daily basis with the sadness and grief of recognizing 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 cannot 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… even much of his own home which he cannot access. For all the love that he has come back to, there are so many painful reminders of what he has lost. There is no word that we know of that adequately describes the level of pain you feel or that Cooper feels when he sees his bike he can no longer ride or his old soccer jersey...heartbreaking, agonizing, despair – there is just not a painful enough description.

This “new normal” we are just starting during this transition home is hard; really, really hard.  It is filled with a lot of new challenges and continued grief for what we have lost.  There is a lot of trying to figure out how to pick up the broken pieces of a life we knew and put it back together, but without the instructions. Even our home, which we all have loved, simply cannot work for us anymore with Cooper and a wheelchair and many other needs. 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.

Yet, we choose to focus on what we do have. Cooper is alive and home and our sweet and lovely athletic little boy has made up his mind that he is going to figure out new ways to play sports.  To steal a lyric from a great country song (thank you, Kacey Musgraves), in a happy-and-sad-all-at-the-same-time moment, Cooper has decided that he is going to find new sports to play.  Cooper has decided to take up wheelchair tennis.  He has already been to the tennis courts a couple times! J  He and Luke are each excited to really learn to play the game and will hopefully play both together and individually for years to come. We have no doubt Cooper will be wicked awesome at tennis…and any other sport he decides to play. It will just be different.

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.  Please continue to pray for our sweet little boy…we know he will show the entire world that love really does win in the end.

With So Much Love and Gratitude,

Jason and Keely Roberts

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