There’s something healing about being able to be in the great outdoors. Whether it’s processing a loss, thinking through challenging circumstances, or just desiring to experience the beauty, peace and joy that God’s creation can bring, there’s a blessing that comes with being on the trails.
One couple from Colorado that seems to have discovered this for themselves is Kristy and TJ Cook.
Their son, Robbie Cook, was born with a rare form of epilepsy. Robbie is challenged with daily seizures, is nonverbal, and is cognitively delayed, according to The Epoch Times.
However, Robbie’s loving parents were determined that these challenges were not going to stop them from enjoying the beauty of national parks with their son.
When Robbie was a baby, his mom, Kristy, was able to strap on a Kinderpack and the family had a bit more freedom.
A loving father from Colorado who’s determined to show the world to his 7-year-old disabled son straps on the Kinderpack and carries him along through each of their outdoor adventures.
Robbie Cook was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy as an infant.https://t.co/huPXdaOrvI pic.twitter.com/yGLcRn5NWr
— Mike Izzo (@izzorv6) September 15, 2022
As Robbie has grown, this has become more of a challenge. He is now 7-years-old, and too heavy for Kristy to carry. So Robbie’s dad, TJ, is now the one who carries Robbie on his back along the trails and to other adventures when places are less wheelchair accessible.
“We have always been a family that likes to get outdoors and adventure,” Kristy, 32, told The Epoch Times. “As Robbie has gotten bigger and requires a wheelchair, we began to feel limitations on what we could plan as a family.”
Kristy is keenly aware of the challenge TJ faces when carrying 60-pound Robbie on his back. She’s deeply grateful that he’s willing and able to do so.
“Carrying a 60-pound child on your back for two hours is hard. But it’s watching my husband smile as he does it. It’s never hearing him complain that it’s hard or he is tired. No hesitations.
“He truly enjoys the quality time with our son, and Robbie absolutely lights up when he can explore using his daddy’s legs.”
There’s quite a bit of planning that goes into their outdoor excursions.
“Robbie is strictly fed through a gastronomy tube four times a day, requires full assistance transferring from his special-needs car seat to his wheelchair or the camper, daily medications, vitals, bathing; the list goes on,” Kristy said. “Is it a lot to juggle and pack? Yes, truly it is. It is so worth it though!”
He has been on quite a few medications since infancy and even had brain surgery to try to resolve some of his health issues.
Kristy and TJ have two other children. Mason, 22 and Nikki, 9.
One thing that has helped the family immensely in their travels is a camper they received through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The children’s charity assists with making the wishes of children with terminal or severe illnesses a reality.
The family has been able to visit 13 states and 27 national parks within two years.
“I see the way strangers react to them on the trail,” Kristy said. “Initially, our goal was to show Robbie the world, I soon realized the world also needed to see Robbie.”
The Cooks have grown and developed a community to offer support to other parents of special needs children who want to be able to get out with them and enjoy the beauty of nature. They have created an online platform that includes both blog posts and videos designed to offer practical insights and encourage others.
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