Cooper Roberts, 8, plays with his dog, George, as he continues to recover from being critically injured when a gunman opened fire during the Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park this year. | Provided Photo

The mother of Cooper Roberts, the boy paralyzed in the Highland Park parade shooting, said in an update her son’s recovery has been “slow and difficult” but he has bonded closely with their dog George during his recovery.

“Certainly, for us, this has been a year unlike any other. Our entire lives have been completely shattered and we are working as best we can to put the pieces back together,” Keely Roberts said in an update earlier this week.

“These past weeks have been emotionally charged; they have been “dig deep” weeks and I know that as we continue through the holiday season more of those “it-takes-all-you-have” days are on the horizon,” Roberts said.

The woman’s son, Cooper, 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.

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Cooper was discharged from the hospital in late July and transferred to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, which is a rehabilitation facility.

Cooper Roberts, 8, returned to school in October after being critically injured when a gunman opened fire during the Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park. | Provided Photo

He participated in physical and occupational therapy to help him regain mobility and strength.

Cooper was discharged from the facility and later returned to school in October where he entered the third grade.

Roberts said in her update earlier this week that Cooper and her other son, Luke, got a French bulldog puppy in 2021.

“Never at that time could we have known what was going to happen to our beloved community, what would happen to our family and that this puppy (George) would become instrumental in Cooper’s recovery as Cooper worked tirelessly while in the hospital and rehab to be reunited with the pup he loves so much,” she said.

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Luke Roberts and Cooper Roberts are both continuing to recover after they were attending a Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park this year when a gunman opened fire, seriously wounding Cooper. | Provided Photo

“We thought we were “just” buying the boys their first pet. What that little pup has emotionally helped Cooper and Luke helped through is totally indescribable. The love and bond between this little pup and those boys is a sight to be seen,” Roberts said.

Roberts thanked the community for their support and said that “progress and recovery, physically and emotionally are slow and difficult.”

A GoFundMe has raised $2.13 million over the past several months to help the Roberts family pay for expenses. Over 31,000 people contributed to the donations.

“Our religious community, the boys’ school, our Highland Park community and the entire North Shore community…you are our family and we love you. Not figuratively, but literally. You saved our lives. You have loved us as your own; you have cared for us, prayed for us, fed us, cheered us on, cried with us, rallied around us, held our hands…you have shown us such generosity in every way possible…and all while you were grieving, too,” she said.

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“We encourage you to believe that for all of us, our best days are still ahead. We ask that you please keep praying for Cooper’s full recovery and for both Luke and Cooper to heal from their pain,” Roberts said.

The family also said they are looking to buy a new home that will be ADA-accessible for Cooper after doctors confirmed he will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.