Highland Park shooting survivor Cooper Roberts returns to school: 'We didn't know if this day would ever come'

Cooper Roberts | Credit: The Roberts Family

Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy who was left paralyzed after being shot in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting, returned to school this week.

"For a long time, we didn’t know if this day would ever come; a day where we were able to watch Cooper return, with his brother Luke, to school again," the family said in a statement.

During the Highland Park tragedy, the 8-year-old was shot in the back and the bullet exited his chest. The gunshot wound severed his spine, causing paralysis from the waist down.

Cooper now uses a wheelchair.

"Given his need to remain in day therapy each week, and the time required is constantly re-evaluated, Cooper’s transition back to school will be slow and gradual. Nevertheless, his return to school this week is an incredible milestone for a little boy who almost three months to the day of his first day of third grade had been desperately fighting for his life from critical gunshot wounds and is now wheelchair bound," the family said.

In late July, Cooper's mother – Keely Roberts – released a video statement sharing how their family was doing and how they were coping with the tragedy.


Keely was also shot during the parade. She sustained bullet wounds to two parts of her leg.

Cooper's twin brother, Luke, was hit by shrapnel during the shooting.

Cooper Roberts (left), Luke Roberts (right) | Photo Credit: The Roberts Family

"This journey we are on; Cooper, Luke, and our entire family, it is an uphill one. Beyond the physical impact of the shooting, the impact of the trauma on all of us is always, always just below the surface; waiting to rear its ugly head. Cooper’s return to school is not without sadness and pain," the family said. "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. 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. That is who Cooper has always been and that is who he still is."

There is a family-friendly fundraiser happening this weekend to support Cooper.

It will be held Oct. 16 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Whiskey River Bar & Grill in Waukegan.

For more information, click here.