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Young boy paralyzed after Highland Park mass shooting out of critical condition: ‘Their lives are not a tragedy, they are a triumph’

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 8/4/2022 Laura Rodríguez Presa, Chicago Tribune
A GoFundMe page for the Roberts family is collecting donations for Cooper Roberts, 8, who was paralyzed after being wounded at the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park. © GoFundMe screenshot/TNS/TNS A GoFundMe page for the Roberts family is collecting donations for Cooper Roberts, 8, who was paralyzed after being wounded at the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park.

Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy who was paralyzed at the July Fourth mass shooting in Highland Park has been released from pediatric intensive care after almost a month of turbulent recovery.

The boy was transferred from the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital last weekend to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, where he’ll begin his rehab, the family said.

In the first photo taken and shared of Cooper following the massacre, he is wearing a light green shirt, smiling and hugging the family dog while sitting in his wheelchair.

“Please keep following along and praying for Cooper and for Luke. They are good, sweet boys who love everyone and want good for everyone they know. They believe in the best in people and in the world. Their lives are so much more and better than this terrible thing that was done to them. Their lives are not a tragedy, they are a triumph,” said Keely Roberts, the mother of Cooper and his twin brother, Luke.

This week, the Roberts family will meet with the medical team at Ability Lab to conduct a series of assessments to determine the appropriate physical and occupational therapy that Cooper will need. They will also assess and provide the boy with other rehabilitation and mental health services to support Cooper “in regaining his strength and reaching his maximum potential moving forward.”

As Cooper gets closer to returning home, the Roberts family said they “feel all the prayers being sent their way and are grateful for and humbled by the outpouring of support.”

Last week, Cooper’s mother shared a video statement in which she recalled the morning of July Fourth when her family joined the family of victims of mass shootings that have traumatized Highland Park and the rest of the country.

Though she remained optimistic about Cooper’s recovery, the painful memory of the shooting reminds her that his life will never be the same as he learns to live paralyzed and deals with emotional stress over the situation. Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, was also injured.

“We were shot. … I can hardly say it. … None of us — Cooper, Luke, me, our family, the other victims and their families, our community — will ever be the same,” Roberts said in a written statement. “Seven people were murdered that day, and our hearts go out to their families, friends and all whose lives they touched. And we are among the dozens of others — injured, shattered, hanging on and fighting through.”


Video: Toddler orphaned when parents were slain after taking him to Highland Park parade (CBS Chicago)

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Like hundreds of other families, Keely Roberts, her husband, Jason, and their twins attended the Independence Day parade in their hometown of Highland Park. Just minutes after it began, a gunman began to shoot at the crowd from a rooftop along the route.

Keely Roberts, a superintendent at Zion Elementary School District 6, was shot in the foot and leg, and Luke was wounded in the leg by shrapnel. Their four older daughters did not attend the parade.

In the face of the tragedy, she highlighted the “humanity and decency” of those “who didn’t think twice and ran back into the scene and helped us,” she said.

“It was a beautiful act of kindness … it saved my life, it saved my children. Cooper would not be alive today if it were not for the act of these people who just risked everything,” she said.

Even though Luke suffered minor physical injuries, she said “what he has to carry is devastating.”

She recalled Luke had to hold a tourniquet on her leg and see his twin brother’s lips go gray. He sat covered in their blood as good Samaritans provided first aid and kept both Cooper and Keely alive.

“I’m heartbroken and I’m sad,” the mother said, “but it is a losing question to ask why — there is no good answer and that is not productive.”

A day after the shooting, even after undergoing several procedures for injuries suffered in the mass shooting herself, Roberts told doctors she needed to be discharged from the hospital she was in so she could be with Cooper, who was at a different hospital. The mother of six has injuries that will require ongoing orthopedic treatment.

A GoFundMe page to cover the medical and financial needs the Roberts family will face as their journey of healing continues has collected nearly $2 million.

“I am human, I am a mom. I feel shocked, angry and very, very sad … but I am so grateful and appreciative; this is a view and a lesson I never wanted to learn, but mostly I am humbled by the amount of love and kindness coming our way,” Roberts said.

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©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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