Despite Disease, Calhoun Athlete Continues to Excel

Landon Cooper, despite various injuries and an arthritic condition, continues to have positive outlook on life.

Landon Cooper. Credit: Andrew Cooper.
Landon Cooper. Credit: Andrew Cooper.
Since he was in fifth grade, Landon Cooper, now 17, has always been susceptible to injury. 

It wasn't until he got to Calhoun High School that he found out why. 

Cooper currently plays varsity lacrosse and hockey, and he made it to the final round of try-outs for the NYS Under 15 Ice Hockey Team, but mysterious injuries have always plagued him.

From a broken foot and strained hamstring to a fractured pelvis, Cooper's parents were told from doctors that the injuries were related to the sports and "the fact that he played hard."

"Landon came to accept the pain as the price he would have to pay to play the sports he loved," his father Andrew said. "While the pain seemed to be mainly in his joints, his hips and lower back were the worst."

Then, while on a family vacation in California during sophomore year, Landon couldn't walk without assistance. Then, when the family got home, he couldn't get out of bed on his own or tie his own shoes.

"The only thing I can remember thinking back is the agonizing frustration," he said. "All these simple tasks…I couldn’t do them on my own."

After months of talking to doctors, Landon was diagnosed with Anklyosing Spondylitis, a degenerative inflammatory autoimmune disease which primarily affects the axial skeleton with variable involvement of peripheral joints and non-articular structures. This disease is more often recognized as a form of Spondyloarthritis, a chronic, inflammatory arthritic condition.

With medicine, Landon began feeling better, which lessened the pain and helped him get his life back, which included his athletics.

"The first time I got back on the ice, all the weight was lifted off my shoulders," Landon said. "It was also angering that I was tripping and falling, but I was just so thankful I had the chance to get back.”

"I can’t play anywhere near the level I did," he added. "It’s relatively painful, but it’s not impossible and I push through."

His father Andrew couldn't be prouder of the example Landon's set and for his positive outlook.

"I will tell you that my son is my hero," Andrew said. "He never feels sorry for himself, not even when he realized that he lost some of his hopes and dreams, or a part of how he had defined himself.  He lives and appreciates every day.  He never complains, and despite all of this, is always supportive of others who have the chance to achieve what is now only a distant memory for him."

What do you think of Landon's story? Tell us in the comments section below.


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