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Community rallying around injured Bath baseball player

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Nine days ago a bath high school baseball player went through the scariest day of his life. During a game against Portland St. Patrick, an on-field collision led to a traumatic brain injury. Playing baseball is one of the things Cooper Gardner loves most in life.

While his collision on April 21 is keeping him from his passion, a group of community members are coming together.

Kris Gardner, Cooper’s Dad, said, “I didn’t know. I was really scared. He was out for over 40 minutes, and I really thought I lost him.”

While cooper was playing 2nd base in a game against Portland St. Patrick, he lowered his head to catch the ball and make the tag on another player -- but the two collided instead.

Christy Gardner, Cooper’s Mom, recalled the moment she was told what had happened.

“I got a phone call from Kris, and all I heard was ‘ball, Cooper, ambulance, hospital’,” she said. “And so his sister came and got me and took me to the hospital and that’s the first time that I saw him.”

He was taken to Sparrow’s pediatric ICU for six days and was just released two days ago. He’s already getting better -- a testament to his inner strength.

Scott Peru is Bath’s Varsity Baseball Coach.

“You’ll never find a kid with better work ethic than he has,” Peru said. “It’s a pleasure for me to coach kids like that that give you 100% all the time.”

Doctors say he could be facing a year-long recovery of occupational, physical, and speech therapy.

“I’m just trying to get as much rest as I can, stuff like that,” Cooper said. “Slowly start easing back into, getting things back in my life. Trying to get back into my routine, that kind of thing.”

The Gardner’s have big expenses to pay from the hospital stay, so the Bath baseball team put together a fundraiser by selling #coopstrong shirts and bracelets.

“The Coop strong thing,” Peru said. “It speaks for itself. He’s a strong kid. Like I said, he’s always been that fighter. His willpower and his grit, I mean, if anyone is going to pull through this it’s going to be him.”

The support has been more than the Gardner family could ask for.

Christy said, “I believe all of their love and support is why he’s healing so quickly.”

“It’s just crazy. Just overwhelming, just tightknit communities,” Cooper said. “I mean when you play a sport, you have basically a family to take care of pretty much.”

A Go-Fund-Me page has also been put together for the Gardner family. It’s already raised about $4,000 to help with medical bills, meals, and other expenses.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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