Before July Fourth, Cooper Roberts was almost always active and running around. He loved playing sports – including soccer, baseball and football – and riding his bike, his family has said.
Life has looked very different since the 8-year-old was shot in the Highland Park Fourth of July attack, and left paralyzed. Seven people were killed and dozens injured by the gunman who fired from a roof into the crowd.
“There are layers upon layers of cruelty with being shot by a sniper. Most people don’t witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds,” Cooper’s family said in a statement Tuesday updating his condition. “He’s an 8-year-old boy who feels hopeless, sad and angry as the reality of his life is setting in.”
Hoping to shed light on what that new reality has looked like, Cooper’s family has provided regular updates on the child’s condition in the weeks since the attack, including on the numerous surgeries he underwent as doctors worked to repair injured organs and stave off infections.
Earlier this month, Cooper was transferred to a rehabilitation facility after nearly a month in pediatric intensive care, a family spokesperson previously said.
The child is still in “constant pain” from internal wounds that are slow to heal, his family said Tuesday.
“He is on a constant IV drip of antibiotics to ward off infection, has swelling that obscures the full internal picture, and suffers stomach pain as his body relearns to process mainly liquid food. He remains on heavy painkillers,” the update said.
Cooper was recently cleared to begin eating some solid foods, his family said, but he feels “full and nauseous” after only a bite or two.
“He (is) starting to recognize the severity of his limitations as he participates in daily rigorous physical and occupational therapy maneuvering around two ports, a (catheter) line and three tubes coming out of his body.”
And the emotional toll is just as heavy: Cooper misses his home and his family. While he is with his parents “constantly,” he can see his whole family only once a week, the family clarified on Thursday. He has begun looking forward to when he’ll be able to join his twin brother in third grade – which could still be weeks away, his family has said.
The rehabilitation facility Cooper is in told CNN that while they are unable to discuss specific cases, their policy allows for two visitors at a time in the medical unit, parents or otherwise.
“It is very hard to convince Cooper that he will be happy again, ” the family said. “Of course, we are beyond grateful for his survival, and we know others weren’t as fortunate, but we want people to know his path/our path will be a very long and hard road.”
A verified GoFundMe campaign has been created in support of the family.
CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus, Joe Sutton and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.