Meet Cooper Potts
Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the USA Swimming Foundation’s nationwide network of Make a Splash* Local Partners, Cooper Potts is just one of many thousands of children whose lives have been changed by the gift of learn-to-swim.
Thursday is Cooper Potts favorite day of the week. This is the day that Cooper takes his weekly swim lesson at the Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center, a learn-to-swim provider and partner with the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative.
Cooper was born with a condition called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, or JIA. He is also afflicted with Tibial Torsion, a condition that causes Cooper’s feet to turn inward, or have what is known as a “pigeon-toed” appearance. Sadly, wearing braces for the last three years hasn’t done much to improve this affliction. And to make matters worse, at the age of four Cooper was diagnosed with high functioning autism with high anxiety and sensory processing disorder.
Clearly, Cooper is not an ordinary seven year old. His mom says he has the uncanny ability to look at things in a whole new light and, the one thing Cooper looks forward to the most is Thursday, the day he gets to swim. “Swimming is a joyful experience for young Cooper”, says his mom. And, the benefits Cooper receives from his weekly lesson are numerous. The physical motion of the sport stretches lots of different muscles and tendons and helps keep him flexible. His sensory processing disorder is calmed after his lesson which helps him be more relaxed when he gets to school and for the remainder of the day. Cooper’s doctors are hopeful that his time in the pool will keep him out of the operating room to correct his Tibial Torsion.
This second grader has to deal with a lot of stuff kids his age shouldn’t have to deal with. Cooper lives with his mom, a single mother of two surviving paycheck to paycheck. He takes daily medication and goes to regular sessions with his occupational and physical therapist, but he never loses hope. Between the scholarship assistance provided by the Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center and his mom’s tax refund check, Cooper is able to take his weekly swim lesson. And for that, his mom is thankful.
Thursday is Cooper Potts favorite day of the week. Except for maybe one day, the day Cooper received a donation of swim suits, a Make a Splash swim cap, and goggles. On this particular day, Cooper was the happiest his mom had seen him in a long time. When he tried on one of the suits he smiled and said, “Michael Phelps really wore this!” And even though his mom had to explain that Michael didn’t actually wear that exact suit it didn’t matter. Cooper still loves Michael Phelps and tries to be like him when he is in the pool.
Cooper really loves to swim. And his mom says she owes swimming a great deal. Every Thursday she sees happiness in her son, a happiness that she could only dream about before. And if she could, she would give him that gift of happiness every day of the week.
*Make a Splash, the USA Swimming Foundation’s national child-focused water safety initiative. Since 2007, more than 1.7 million children have been enrolled in swim lessons through our Make a Splash Local Partners, giving kids in all 50 states the opportunity to become part of the sport that we all love. Over the past year, the Foundation has invested nearly $1 million to fund grants to local partners, to spread national awareness through our annual Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66, and to spread the lifesaving message of learn-to-swim across the country.
Learn more about the USA Swimming Foundation's mission to save lives and build champions―in the pool and in life and the Make a Splash initiative by clicking here.