My wife asked me to come up with a quick explanation to describe “Cooper’s Run.” So here it goes. Our son, Cooper, unexpectedly died on July 31, 2009. He was four. We will forever remember that day. We will also forever remember and be grateful for all of the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) personnel that responded. There were what seemed like hundreds of Orem City police, fire, and ambulance personnel--not to mention the hovering Air-Med helicopter.

As you would expect, each EMS responder acted professionally. After all, that’s the way they are “wired” and “trained.” But that’s not what left us impressed or feeling like we wanted to “give back.” What did that was that every EMS responder also acted with unexpected respect, compassion and what my wife and I have referred to as “reverence”--attributes and adjectives not usually associated with stereo-typical thick-headed “cops,” “paramedics,” or “firemen.”

At the time of his death, Cooper was enrolled to begin his second year at Learning Dynamics--an amazing private pre-school. He loved Learning Dynamics. Coop learned to write his name (first and last!) at Learning Dynamics. Shortly before his death, he triumphantly signed his own name on a mother’s day gift. It now sits in a prominent place in our home with his personalized signature clearly visible.

So what is Cooper’s Run? It’s a way to hopefully accomplish three things: First, we hope July 31st will become more than just the anniversary of our son’s death. We want it to become a yearly tradition where we are surrounded by family, friends and the community engaged in a good cause. Second, we hope to draw much neglected attention toward and say “thank you” to the City of Orem and every EMS worker (whether of Orem or not) who not only acts professionally, but also with respect, compassion and reverence. And third, we hope to raise additional funds which will be added to an already existing pool to be used to pay the tuition costs for other 3 and 4 years olds whose parents might not be able to afford it.

In ways words cannot adequately express, we feel that if Cooper’s Run can help us create new meaning for July 31st, help us all express much needed appreciation and gratitude to EMS responders, and help other kids learn to “write their own names,” it will be a happy and meaningful day--for years to come.

So come join us! There’s a 5K run that we’re hoping will be attended by everybody from serious runners to the “are you kidding? I think I’ll walk” crowd. There will also be a separate and shorter kid’s/family “fun run” (really a lap around the block) complete with Otter Pops (one of Cooper’s favorite snacks), a surprise from one of Orem’s Fire Trucks, and, if we’re lucky, an up-close look at an Air-Med helicopter.

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