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Cooper Groves

Sugargrove, PA

Entry Photo for Cooper Groves - Sugargrove, PA

Cooper is a very special student that I have been privileged to work with since he was 1 year old. He is diagnosed with Leigh’s disease which is a type of Mitochondrial disorder. Mitochondrial disorders occur when the mitochondria (the power house of the cells) do not produce enough energy. Cooper’s mom describes it as a battery- we wake up with our battery fully charged and during the day it drains, but eating and sleeping help us fully recharge our batteries. With Cooper that is different. He does not have a full battery to begin with and during the day his battery drains but can not be recharged. Eventually his battery will just go out. But that is not important. Each day is a gift and Cooper participates fully in it. He is not able to move his body or hold his head up by himself, he is fed by a tube, and he is deaf, but Cooper is an active part of everyday! He goes to his brother’s bowling events and go cart races. He has his own little dog named Ruby that he received for Christmas who loves to snuggle with him. Cooper’s parents fought the insurance company to get a cochlear implant so that he could enjoy hearing his family’s voices and the sounds around him. Every year Cooper’s family participates in, or sponsors, an Energy for Life Walk to raise money for Mitochondrial research. They make countless trips from our small town to Pittsburgh which is 3 hours away to see the numerous specialists that Cooper needs to see. They have a mini van which they travel in and Cooper must be taken out of his wheelchair and placed in a car seat. In the carseat, Cooper is in a very upright position and someone must sit next to him to hold his head up. This is usually his brothers job. Three hours to Pittsburgh is long time to be holding your brother’s head up- no matter how much you love him! Cooper has really grown and It is difficult to transfer him out of his wheelchair and into the van. Cooper would benefit greatly from a wheelchair accessible van so that he can travel more safely and comfortably in his wheelchair.