When runners lace up their sneakers for the Coop’s Troop 5K on July 16, they’ll be racing in memory of a Weymouth boy named Cooper. Kelly and Michael Richards’ son Cooper was born in July of 2013. The youngest of four children, Cooper was a beautiful and healthy baby who had the power to light up a room. However, when his parents noticed developmental problems in their child, they knew that something must be wrong. After trying early intervention and physical therapies, the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital delivered the bad news. Cooper was living with a regressive and terminal disease called GM-1 Gangliosidosis, a deadly disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and destroys nerve cells in both areas.
As young Cooper fought a brave battle against the disease, family and friends rallied together to support the Richards family and founded a charity road race Coop’s Troop 5K to assist with their extensive medical costs. On January 19, 2017, Cooper passed away in his home surrounded by loved ones. Following his death, The Richards family set to work creating a charitable foundation in Cooper’s name so that his legacy of love would live on.
“The race continues this year in his memory,” says Kelly Richards. “The Coop’s Troop Foundation: Caring for Courageous Children has just been implemented as a nonprofit. It will be our way to help children with special needs and life-limiting diseases while using the mantra we call ‘Doing Cooper Work,’ which simply means helping those with kindness and paying it forward.”
Proceeds from this year’s race will go to support research on GM-1 and give back to people who provided support to the family. The race will take place on July 16 at Bare Cove Park in Hingham. More information for the run can be found on the organization’s Facebook page, “Coop’s Troop 5K,” and on their website.