When a mother's worst nightmare came true, she didn't know how her family would carry on. They experienced something nobody should but managed to stay hopeful. Read their heartbreaking story and discover where their strength came from.
Parents will do anything to protect their kids, but tragedy sometimes strikes when they least expect it. The pain of seeing a loved one hurting is devastating, and it became a reality for a family in Highland Park, Illinois.
A mother was enjoying a fun day in the sun with her beautiful twin sons when something horrific happened. The incident changed their lives forever.
Keely Roberts. | Source: youtube.com/CBS Chicago
JOY TURNED INTO PANIC
Like most moms, Keely Roberts adored her children. She had a big family and cherished her six kids because they meant everything to her.
There was one heartbreaking question the mother had to face. Her young and innocent son asked her something and she was forced to answer honestly.
While enjoying the Fourth of July parade in 2022, the family's local town was shocked by an act of unexpected violence. The mother and her husband were walking happily with twin boys, Cooper and Luke when their joy quickly turned to panic.
A PARENT'S WORST NIGHTMARE
The family became victims of the July 4 Highland Park shooting, and they suffered injuries. While Keely and Luke's outward injuries were not critical, eight-year-old Cooper was on the brink of death. His mom shared:
"The world as we knew it has completely changed ... It is heartbreaking, devastating, and unimaginable to find ourselves as shooting victims. We were shot … I can hardly say it."
Keely admitted that she was sad, shocked, and angry. She wanted to protect her kids from pain at all costs, but life dealt them a harsh blow. Not only was one of her sons fighting for his life, but the other was also facing a horrible internal battle.
THE UNSEEN PAIN
Keely's son Luke struggled with emotional pain that ran deep. His mother noted that he was traumatized by the ordeal because he witnessed what nobody should ever see. She said:
"While we are grateful that our son Luke – Cooper’s twin – sustained only minor physical injuries after being hit by shrapnel, what he has to carry is devastating."
THERE WERE MANY MIRACLES
Cooper's condition remained critical for weeks, and the doctors performed multiple surgeries to repair the damage. The medical team refused to give up, and toward the end of July 2022, Cooper was finally showing signs of improvement.
His mother was immensely proud of him and thankful for the many miracles they saw. She said:
"The fact that Cooper is still here with us today is a miracle. He has taught me so much. I am amazed at the enormous number of people who don't know us, who are sharing extraordinary acts of kindness."
LIFE CHANGED IN MANY WAYS
The terrible encounter changed the family's life forever. However, Keely noted that not all of the changes were negative. There were many shifts that she was grateful for. She shared:
"I joke that I went from living and dying by my outlook calendar to not knowing what day of the week it is. It gives you perspective that I am grateful for. It instantly aligns your priorities."
MANY TOUGH QUESTIONS
Keely has refrained from asking the dreaded question of "why." She is heartbroken that her family suffered so much, but she refuses to stay stuck, wondering about the reason for their pain.
However, there was one heartbreaking question the mother had to face. Her young and innocent son asked her something, and she was forced to answer honestly. Keely shared:
"Cooper has been asking me — will I walk again? Will I have to be in a wheelchair forever? Place that in your mother's heart … it is truly unthinkable."
THEY STILL HAVE HOPE
Keely told her son that the doctors believe he will be paralyzed from the waist down. However, they remain thankful that his life was spared. The mother also recalled the many selfless people who risked their lives to save her and her children. She added:
"There were countless people who didn't think twice and ran back. Cooper would not be alive today if it were not for the acts of these people who just risked everything to ensure that this little boy lived."
Amid the trauma and pain, Keely and her family refused to hold onto hate. The lesson they learned was not that "one person did this horrible thing, but that thousands of people did great things, kind things."
A NEED FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
The ordeal showed Keely that there is a desperate need for mental health services, particularly for children who face traumatic incidents.
She was thankful for the people who assisted her son Luke but stated it wasn't enough. Keely said:
"This experience has been absolutely mind-blowing for me in terms of the lack of appropriate amounts of services for children and families when it comes to mental health services."
"The need is so great, and the resource is so thin. There comes a point where [they] need social, emotional, and mental health services. It's heartbreaking to see there's not enough help," the mom added.
HER SON'S BRIGHT FUTURE
Keely revealed that while her family was closer before the incident, they have become even closer because of it. She also believed without a shadow of a doubt that her son was destined for great things.
She knew Cooper's life was saved for a reason, and even though he still had a long road of recovery ahead, she was hopeful about his future. The mother said:
"Cooper's story is still to be continued, and I encourage everyone to keep watching. He's going to change the world."
We wish this little angel a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, his mom, and their entire family.
Click here for another story about a family that faced unimaginable pain because of the tragic events in Highland Park. Children were saved because of their grandfather, and now they want to honor him for his bravery.
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