Billy Corgan Highland Park Wrestling Event To Benefit Cooper Roberts

July 30, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

HIGHLAND PARK, IL — A free professional wrestling event Saturday at the Recreation Center of Highland Park will benefit Cooper Roberts, the youngest survivor of the more than 50 people shot just over a year earlier.

The HP Cares for Cooper event is being organized by the National Wrestling Alliance, or NWA, which is owned by Highland Park resident and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan.

In the year since the shooting, Corgan has raised money for victims and survivors through free concerts at his event space, Madame Zuzu’s, located at 1876 1st St., around the corner from the site of the shooting.

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“We’ve tried to step up and tried to help and kind of deal with the aftermath of this in the best way that we can,” Corgan told Patch.

“The number one thing that I never could have imagined in a million years was, after we did the concert and I was out on television talking about Highland Park, it was shocking to me the number of people who pulled me aside — and I’m talking about septuagenarians down to teenagers — thanking me for trying to put a positive light around a really difficult situation,” he said.

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Roberts was paralyzed in the shooting and now uses a wheelchair. His twin brother, Luke, and his mother, Keely, were also wounded. The brothers recently celebrated their 9th birthday.

“This year, we celebrated their lives—both the day they were born and the day they survived,” Keely said.

“And yet, their lives now are filled with such challenges and loss. Cooper can’t run, play like he used to, or even walk. He can’t be on the soccer team, bounce on the couch or wrestle with his brother. When he should be going to sports practice, he is attending physical therapy,” said Keely, in an update on an online fundraiser. “Yet, amidst the sadness, we are astonished by his resilience and hope as Cooper has started participating in Adaptive Swim Meets and is learning wheelchair tennis. We are figuring out new ways to participate in the world.”

In a statement accompanying the announcement of the wrestling event, Cooper’s mother expressed gratitude to everyone who has demonstrated love and support for him.

“It is the kindness and unwavering dedication of our community that has sustained us during these challenging months,” she said.

And on the eve of the anniversary of the shooting, Cooper Roberts threw out the first pitch at the game between the Chicago Cubs and his favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

Related: Chicago Bears Surprise Shooting Survivor With Specialized Wheelchair

The HP Cares for Cooper charity wrestling show takes place 2 p.m. at the rec center, 1207 Park Ave. West, with doors opening about an hour before.

Money for the Roberts family will be raised through donations, sponsorships and a raffle. VIP tickets are also available for advance purchase.

“I really do want the community to come out, so if people don’t have resources but they just want to come out and support the family, I wanted to create that opportunity. I didn’t want it to be like you’re not invited if you don’t pay,” Corgan said.

Corgan said he learned through third parties that Cooper’s mother is a fan of his and appreciated his support.

“That sort of established the link, even though we had never talked. So I reached out to her recently and said look I want to do this event and I would love to make it about Cooper,” he said, “Both to continue to shine a spotlight on people in need — and who doesn’t hear the story of that day involving Cooper and their heart doesn’t hurt.”

Corgan said he has worked to change the tone around the city’s resilience in the aftermath of last summer’s massacre.

“I think you don’t want to live in a place that’s known as the place where there was a mass shooting,” he said. I think you want to live in a place that says, ‘Yes, that happened, and it’s part of who we are, but it doesn’t define us. I think Highland Park as a community has done an incredible job of dealing with the aftermath.”

Read more: Highland Park Shooting Survivor Cooper Roberts’ Family Seeks New Home

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Following the charity event on Saturday, which will include several championship matches, the NWA will tape a pair of live television shows on Sunday at Studio One, 1799 Green Bay Road.

Tickets for Sunday’s taping start at $20, with 20 percent discounts were available the NWA website.

Corgan said he first became more fascinated with the world of professional wrestling after becoming a famous rock musician.

“I was a fan as a kid, and then when I got all goth in my teens, I was like, ‘This is not for me,’ and I fell back in love with it in my late 20’s,” Corgan said. “And that sort of opened the door to this very arcane and mysterious world, that still on many levels operates, like what it came out of, which is circus culture.”

The 56-year-old rock star said he was fascinated by the subculture and the way it operates by its own rules. Corgan, who purchased the NWA after several years of working with other wrestling outfits, said it took years to be considered an insider.

“My celebrity didn’t guarantee me anything,” he said. “In fact it made them more suspicious of me.”

In addition to the charity events he has hosted and organized, Corgan said he has tried to made Madame Zuzu’s continually reinforce and create a welcoming environment where people can feel said.

“One of my big things is,” he said, “there are of course the victims of that day, which there are many, but it’s making sure that we don’t continue to re-victimize ourselves by living as victims and changing the way that we live.”

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