by Danielle Voss and Rob Lippolis | AHL On The Beat
Approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia in the United States each year. Of those, around 20,000 are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML affects both the bone marrow and the blood by making the body’s cells incapable of functioning normally. For those with Down syndrome, their chance of being diagnosed with AML increase 10- to 20-fold.
This is the case for 4-year-old Binghamton native Cooper Busch.
In November of 2016, Cooper was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and in January of this year, he was told by his doctors he would only have six months to a year to live. But “Super Cooper” refuses to let this slow him down.
Cooper is like any other 4-year-old. He spends his time with his family, idolizes his big brother, and has recently become a big brother himself to his sister, Hope. Not only does he love spending time with family and friends, but he loves anything and everything with an engine. Sports and dirt bikes are Cooper’s calling.
But where did “Super Cooper” come from? Ask his mother, Tara, and she says every child that battles cancer is a superhero. When Cooper was first diagnosed, the Busch family friends leaped into action and organized a benefit to help offset some of Cooper’s medical costs. The t-shirts designed for the benefit had the Superman logo, but with a “C” instead of an “S.” People started calling him Super Cooper, and the rest is history.
“Cooper has been a true superhero through it all,” says Tara. “He doesn’t know he’s sick. He has more good days than bad, and he thinks of the hospital, doctors and nurses as a home away from home. He’s known the oncology unit and clinic for a huge (portion) of his life.”
This superhero certainly isn’t without support. Everyone Cooper meets falls in love with him, and this is a credit to the community. The people in the Southern Tier take care of each other. It’s a community that rallies behind those that need it, and their generosity has allowed the Busch family to focus on what is truly important: spending as much time as they can together and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
As a huge lover of sports, Cooper and his family were able to spend a few days hanging out with the Binghamton Devils, watching practice, catching a game, and taking a few silly selfies with the players.
“The experience of coming to practice a few days before a game was awesome,” said Tara. “We were blown away by the hospitality of the staff, the players, and everyone we interacted with. Cooper loved skating around with the players and his big brother, who just started playing hockey, loved his personal lesson with some of the guys. We loved to see the smiles on their faces.”
But it wasn’t just a special day for the Busch family. It also touched the hearts of several guys on the team, including veteran forward, Bracken Kearns.
“It was great to meet them,” stated Kearns. “Being a parent myself, I can’t imagine having a little one that has to go through that with chemotherapy. The family is so strong, and so is the little guy. He came on the ice after practice and just loved it. We couldn’t even give him back to his parents. It was hard to carry him around the ice; it felt like he was made of pure muscle, and he’s a little warrior. We’re all proud of him.”
On February 17, the Binghamton Devils took on the Rochester Americans at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. The game was tough one and it couldn’t be settled in regulation. As overtime approached, Cooper’s crew was in the audience. The Devils beat the Americans in overtime, and who scored the game-winning goal? Well, only Super Cooper’s favorite player on the Binghamton Devils: Bracken Kearns.
“Cooper loves Bracken,” said Tara. “Bracken was so nice and sweet to Cooper. We even got to meet his wife and kids before the game a few days after practice. Bracken scored the winning goal that night, and he did it for Cooper.”
“Most of my goals are ugly ones, but that one felt pretty good,” said Kearns. “To get one like that with them in the crowd was special. Right as I saw the puck go in, I was kind of looking around for him in the stands to get him the puck. It was amazing.”
To help with Cooper’s medical costs, please visit GoFundMe.com/CooperBusch