Sunday, August 26, 2001

Man gets help from near, far

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A man whose wife gave birth a month ago to a healthy baby girl while spending most of her pregnancy in a coma said he is overwhelmed by the public's generosity.

        In a letter to the Enquirer, Northern Kentucky resident Steve Cooper, husband of Chastity Cooper, offered a public thank you to the many people who have offered money, prayers, support, cars and even jobs.

[photo] Steve Cooper, holding daughter Alexis after her July 23 birth, has received a lot of support.
(Enquirer file photo)
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        “Words cannot truly convey how much all of your support has meant to me and my family,” he wrote.

        “At such a challenging time, your cards and letters really lifted our spirits. I never knew just how many caring and giving people there are in this world.”

        Chastity Cooper has been in a coma since a car crash in November. At the time, nobody knew she was pregnant. She gave birth to Alexis July 23 at University Hospital.

        By then, Mr. Cooper had lost his job while spending time at the hospital and caring for the couple's sons, Aaron and Jacob, and the family's trailer home.

        Alexis' remarkable birth attracted coverage from local and national television, the Paul Harvey syndicated radio show, the BBC, a German TV station and a British tabloid.

        “I don't know what to think about all the attention,” Mr. Cooper said.

        “If it wasn't for all the attention, we wouldn't have received so much support, so it's gratifying. But it's been mind-boggling, too.”

        Several hundred cards and letters came from as far away as Austria, including at least $27,000 in donations, which will make a down payment on a home.

        Mr. Cooper said he also has received a few job offers.

        Meanwhile, Chastity has made progress since a recent transfer to the Drake Center rehabilitation facility in Hartwell. She has opened her eyes more and used her fingers to respond to questions.

        Doctors still say the odds are against a full recovery, but with the improvement she has made, they are ruling nothing out, Mr. Cooper said.



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