A non-profit organization has donated a specially adapted bicycle to Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy paralyzed in the Highland Park parade shooting.
Money was raised to help Project Mobility, based in St. Charles, donate the bike to Cooper.
The organization’s founder, Hal Honeyman, and George Pastorino, who helped raise money for the bike, delivered the gift to Cooper in early January.
“Bikes for those who are disabled goes beyond mere transportation, or even health building recreation for those whose health is often fragile. These specialized bikes create a sense of freedom for those who are disabled,” the organization’s website says.
“Bikes restore a sense of possibility and ability to those whom are often told by society that their life is about limitations and disability,” the organization says.
Cooper, who suffered a gunshot wound that left his spinal cord severed in the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, is paralyzed and requires the use of a wheelchair.
Cooper was discharged from the hospital in late July and transferred to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, which is a rehabilitation facility.
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.
Keely Roberts, Cooper’s mother, said in a December update 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.
“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 $2.19 million over the past several months to help the Roberts family pay for expenses. Over 32,000 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,” Roberts said.
“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.