Meet Kooper

Kooper and Todd: A Decade of Compassionate Care and Unbreakable Bonds

At 17 weeks pregnant, Kooper’s mother, Dawn, was told devastating news – Kooper and his twin Conner had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and at the same time learned that Kooper was going to need an amputation to his right leg upon birth. They chose to undergo surgery the next day in hope that both babies would live. At 34 weeks, Kooper and Conner were delivered.

After Kooper and Conner were born, Dawn’s specialist immediately directed her to seek care at Shriners Children’s. When he was seven months old, Kooper and his family traveled from their home in North Pole, Alaska to establish care at Shriners Children’s Portland.

On Kooper’s first day of appointments, the family met Todd Dewees, POPs manager. Dawn reflects on that special day, adding that Todd reached for Kooper, held him in his arms, and immediately began to sit and play with him in the hall. All the worries that the family were harboring before their long day of appointments washed away with this man’s kindness.

From that day on, Kooper and Todd had a special bond. “They get so excited to see each other,” Dawn said. At each of Kooper’s appointments, the pair get a photo together, documenting more than a decade of compassionate care and friendship. “Todd has been a huge part of helping Kooper feel comfortable with his most recent surgery,” Dawn said. “He sat with him, talked him through it, and assured him.”

As Kooper began to grow, he became increasingly interested in wrestling. With his father as assistant wrestling coach for his junior high, Kooper was set up for success to get on the mat. Through rigorous training and practice, Kooper worked toward his goal of winning the junior high state championship. “I would show or demonstrate a move, and he would figure it out how to adapt it to fit into his skillset,” Kooper’s father Rikk said. Kooper’s ability to adapt moves to best fit his needs would serve him as a valuable skill in his matches. Never backing down from a challenge, Kooper often wrestled up in weight classes for matches. Despite going up against larger opponents, he still dominated the mat.

Fast forward to March 4, 2023 – and the final round of the junior high state wrestling championship was underway. Kooper put his opponent flat on his back, and the official signaled a 3-0 win. Making all the right moves, Kooper secured a first place win and a gym of congratulatory cheers. As he ran off the mat, Kooper jumped into his dad’s arms. “I felt happy,” said Kooper. “I was proud of myself.” On the winner’s pedestal, he stood tall showcasing his medal and his blue prosthetic leg. His family shares the same sense of pride. “We knew his potential,” Dad said.

Now that wrestling season is over, Kooper is shifting his focus to hanging out with his friends and having fun. He plans to visit the Portland hospital soon for a new prosthetic leg and – of course – to see Todd.

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