'An amazing blessing': 8-year-old paralyzed in Highland Park shooting returns home
Cooper Roberts is home again.
The 8-year-old, paralyzed from the waist down in the Highland Park July Fourth parade shooting, spent more than two months recovering at Comer Children's Hospital and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.
On Thursday, his parents announced that Cooper finally returned home.
"There was a time, not all that long ago, where we were desperately and feverishly praying just for Cooper to live," Jason and Keely Roberts said in a statement. "To be able to have Cooper home and our family all reunited together again is such an amazing blessing."
Cooper's journey home involved 11 weeks of multiple surgeries, significant time spent intubated and on a ventilator, and days without eating before shifting to a liquid diet and then actual food.
His parents said Cooper endured rigorous rehabilitation to address broken vertebrae and severe spinal cord injuries that caused pain, fear, sadness and questions about his future.
"We know that Cooper continues to face a heartbreakingly cruel and unfair road ahead," his parents said. "The transition to having Cooper's extensive medical needs being addressed at home (versus) at the hospital or rehabilitation clinic is a gigantic learning curve for all of us."
Cooper's parents said their current home can't fully address his needs, and he is limited to staying in certain parts of the house. They said the family must decide whether to find a different home, renovate their current house or have a new one built.
Cooper, who loves sports, has begun playing wheelchair tennis, according to his parents. And he's able to be with his best friend and twin brother, Luke, who was wounded by shrapnel in the shooting that killed seven people.
Keely Roberts also was among the dozens shot and wounded that day.
A GoFundMe online fundraiser at gofundme.com/f/kxwjn-the-roberts-family-fundraiser has raised more than $2 million toward a $2.25 million goal to help pay for Cooper's medical care and future needs.
Whiskey River Bar and Grill, located at 1850 Waukegan Road in Glenview, is holding a fundraiser for the Roberts family from 1 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 16.
"Please continue to pray for our sweet little boy," Jason and Keely Roberts said. "We know he will show the entire world that love really does win in the end."