By June 9, 2014 Read More →

Glen Dale boy winning races with prosthetic legs

Photo provided to The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Cooper Blair, 10, of Glen Dale competes in a race using his “cheetah legs.”

Photo provided to The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
Cooper Blair, 10, of Glen Dale competes in a race using his “cheetah legs.”

GLEN DALE, W.Va. — At 23 months old, Cooper Blair’s feet were amputated to give him a chance at a more normal life. Little did his mother know that he would exceed everyone’s expectations again and again.

Now 10 years old, Cooper has already won gold medals during running competitions. Ultimately, he wants to be a member of the Paralympic team for the United States, said his mother, Richelle Blair of Glen Dale.

“He teaches me something new every day – to not take life for granted, that there isn’t anything we can’t do, that we can do anything. He’s my hero; I look up to him,” she said.

Cooper, who will enter fifth grade this fall at Our Lady of Peace in Mount Olivet, was born with a rare disease called amniotic band syndrome, a condition in which amniotic bands restrict blood flow to a fetus’ limbs or sometimes the face. To try and correct what the disease did to his feet, new casts were put on him weekly.

“His feet were almost backward and he had no toes on one foot,” Blair said.

After many months of casting, at 20 months old, Cooper was referred to a specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital who said if the procedures were continued, he likely would have to live his life using a wheelchair. But if his feet were amputated, he could live as close to normal a life as possible.

“I thought about it and I realized he can run and play just as much with prosthetics. After praying and research, I decided it was the best route to go,” she said. “I can honestly say I don’t regret the decision at all because he is happy with who he is.”

Cooper is competing at the Endeavor Games in Oklahoma City – the same event he won gold at last year in the 20, 60, 100 and 200-meter runs. Before returning home, Cooper and his mother will travel to Louisville, Ky., Monday for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team’s second annual Kids Camp.

Endeavor and the camp, Blair said, are venues for her son to meet and learn from other amputees of all ages.

“I’m hoping he can see that there are no limitations as to what he can do…

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