JARRELL, Texas (KXAN) — A Jarrell family has spent the better part of a decade turning a dire situation into one of inspiration through adaptive sports.
At 5 years old, Kooper Hernandez broke his left leg, a fairly typical injury for an active kid at such a young age. What the family wasn’t expecting was what ultimately caused the injury: bone cancer.
More specifically, Kooper was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. After 10 weeks of chemotherapy, Kooper’s mother Mindee said his left leg was amputated at the hip to stop tumors from spreading.
Kooper underwent 48 weeks of chemo, and seven years after the life-altering diagnosis, the 12 year old has found his place playing wheelchair basketball.
Before he left Jarrell Elementary School to compete in the Junior National Wheelchair Basketball Association championships in Wichita, Kansas, the school sent him off with a beautiful, tear-jerking display of support.
Cheers of “Let’s go, Kooper,” rang through the halls, and other kids held up signs wishing him luck as he used his crutches to move through the building and soak in all the love.
His team with the ATX Rec’ers nonprofit organization finished in 16th place in the tournament April 2-4, and Mindee said qualifying was quite an accomplishment.
“They played hard and met lots of people and made new friends,” she said.
Mindee said Kooper is cancer-free now, and he also competes in track and field. Once the Hernandez family realized Kooper could still play sports, it started a nonprofit of its own, Super Kooper Inc., to help families cope with childhood cancer diagnoses and get connected with adaptive sports.
In her Facebook post with the video of Kooper’s send-off, she told people why her family appreciates the Jarrell community so much.
“When people ask why I stay in Jarrell, I tell them it’s the small-town feel, even though it’s getting bigger every day,” she wrote. “Jarrell Elementary, thank you for this awesome send-off for Kooper! There was not really a dry eye in the house, and even my little giant man child cried and told me it’s the best day ever, and he’s proud to be a JES Cougar.”