Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old who was paralyzed in the Highland Park shooting, returned to school this week and joined his twin brother in the third grade, his family announced.
The boy was discharged from the hospital in late July and transferred to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, which is a rehabilitation facility.
He had been participating in physical and occupational therapy every day to help him regain mobility and strength.
Cooper’s parents, Jason and Keely Roberts, said in an update last month that their son had been discharged from Shirley Ryan.
“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,” the 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. 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,” the statement said.
This week, Cooper joined his twin brother, Luke, in the third grade. The family called it an “incredible milestone” and a “remarkable transition.”
“We were so nervous, we couldn’t sleep the night before his first day back. We cried in the parking lot as he wheeled himself into the school, cried as we pulled out of the parking lot,” the Roberts family said in a statement Monday.
“We were just a mess! He loved every minute, and his exact words were, ‘If I had not been shot, paralyzed, and had to be in a wheelchair, it would have been a perfect school day, but it was a really great day! I loved it!'” they said.
Cooper’s transition will be “slow and gradual” as he continues participating in therapy.
The transition between the hospital and home has been a “gigantic learning curve for all of us,” the Roberts said.
Cooper cannot play on playgrounds and cannot play sports like he used to.
“He is terribly sad about not getting to run around with his friends in the field at recess. He is heartbroken about not getting to play on the jungle gym, hang on the monkey bars, slide down the slide, swing on the swings, kick the ball. He can’t be there all day or even every day. He sees the things he cannot do,” his parents said.
“Yet, Cooper continues to affirm for us that his spirit, his soul, his ‘Cooperness’ remains. The hideous, evil act did not take that from him because he won’t let it. He is always going to be more concerned about others than he is for himself, find the positive in any situation, still be ‘the sporty kid,’ and will always love his family and friends fiercely,” they said.
The boy suffered a gunshot wound that left his spinal cord severed in the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, which led to him being paralyzed and requiring the use of a wheelchair.