USWNT vs. Korea Republic VW CHAMP Player Honoree: Cooper and Anna LeighOctober 21st International Friendly – USWNT v. Korea Republic – Kansas City, KS
It’s impossible not to root for Cooper and Anna Leigh, a soccer-loving and inspiring set of siblings!
Cooper is 13 years old and was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy, a type of Cerebral Palsy that primarily affects his legs, at the age of two. Throughout his life, Cooper has never let his CP stop him from achieving his dreams.
At the age of four, he decided he was going to play soccer and fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, as the years passed, no matter how hard Cooper trained, he could no longer keep up with his teammates.
Between the ages of three and 10, Cooper underwent stem cell infusion, daily physical and occupational therapies, and multiple procedures try and manage his muscles and pain.
Finally at the age of nine, Cooper found his team. He began to play CP Soccer and for the first time met a group of kids who understood everything he was going through.
However, by the age of 10, Cooper could not walk more than a few feet without pain. His doctors decided that it was time for a bilateral femoral osteotomy. Recovery required intensive physical therapy every day for a year. Unfortunately, after his surgery and during the most critical time of his recovery, COVID-19 hit. Thankfully, during this time his CP soccer team started virtual training sessions.
Though Cooper still has more surgeries to endure and will require procedures and therapies throughout his life, he’s found his family within the CP Soccer team and is able to play the sport he loves.
Anna Leigh is seven years old and diagnosed with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy due to a stroke on the right side of her brain, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Epilepsy.
Since Anna Leigh’s brother Cooper had already been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, the family was all too familiar with the signs and immediately took her to a neurologist.
At five months old, Anna Leigh’s MRI came back showing she’d suffered a massive stroke on the right side of her brain before she was born. Anna Leigh immediately began speech, occupational, and physical therapies to give her the best chance at gaining independence and skills. Anna Leigh defied all odds and learned to walk with the aid of orthotics.
Like her brother Cooper, Anna Leigh has undergone countless procedures on top of being diagnosed with Epilepsy. While she spoke constantly to her family, she would not speak with anyone outside of her immediate family and was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It wasn’t until her brother started playing CP soccer that Anna Leigh began to show real interest trying a sport. She eventually played each and every practice. For the first time ever, she began to speak to others outside of the family. Through soccer she’s gained a team, friends, and a sport she felt confident in which has raised her self-esteem immensely.
Both Cooper and Anna Leigh are players at CP Soccer. CP Soccer’s mission is to build a nationwide soccer league for kids who are affected by cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injury. To learn more about CP Soccer or to donate, please visit CPSoccer.US