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HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – An 8-year-old boy who was shot and partially paralyzed when a gunman opened fire at a suburban Chicago Fourth of July parade has returned to school, his family said this week.

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According to the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, Cooper Roberts, who underwent a lifesaving surgery and months of rehabilitation after the deadly Highland Park shooting, started third grade, his parents, Jason and Keely Roberts, said in a statement Monday on the family’s GoFundMe page.

8-year-old boy shot, paralyzed in Highland Park shooting returns home after months of treatment

“For a long time, we didn’t know if this day would ever come; a day where we were able to watch Cooper return, with his brother Luke, to school again,” the parents said of the boy and his twin brother. “The life-threatening nature of his injuries and the significant rehabilitation he has needed (and continues to need for hours every day) made it seem as though returning to school would be something we could only hope for way in the distant future.”

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Although Cooper’s “transition back to school will be slow and gradual” because of his need for therapy, his return marks “an incredible milestone,” the parents said.

“It has been one of the most humbling and hopeful experiences of our lives to watch our precious 8-year-old who has had so much cruelly and violently ripped away from him – his life needlessly and forever changed – so cheerfully and excitedly count down the days leading to his return to school,” the statement continued. “Cooper is as aware as any little boy can be of the new challenges ahead of him at school, and he is willingly facing them head-on to be reunited with the children and adults from his school whom he loves so dearly.”

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The update came more than three months after authorities said Robert Crimo III opened fire at the Independence Day celebration, killing seven people and wounding dozens, according to The Associated Press. He faces 21 counts of first-degree murder, as well as 48 counts each of attempted murder and aggravated battery, the news agency reported.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.