Local teen does it all while fighting neurological condition
WOOSTER – For those who don’t know him, Cooper Meshew may sound like your average teenager.
He likes to hang out with his friends, has a few hobbies and occasionally tries to get out of doing his schoolwork. But to those who know Cooper, know there is so much more to who he is.
He is an entrepreneur who started his own lawn care business during the pandemic.
He is a trailblazer who will be the first at his high school and college program to get an associate degree before graduating high school, especially with his unique circumstances.
And he is the caring person who created a nonprofit organization when he was 10 years old to help teens across the country get the chance to go hunting when they never thought they could.
Even though he is only 17, Cooper Meshew has touched the lives of so many people over the years and with the help of his family and friends, he hopes to continue to have that impact well into the future.
Fighting against the odds
Cooper was 9 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare medical condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, an inherited, genetic condition that causes nerve damage and weakened muscles.
“His nerves (are) dying from the inside out, killing his muscles,” said his mom, Heidi Meshew.
Heidi said it has made it hard for him to walk without leg braces or supportive shoes and it has limited his arm and hand mobility. The weakened muscles also have left him with severe scoliosis, a curvature in the spine, and weak lungs.
Although there is no cure or real treatment for the disease, Cooper and his parents have found some ways to help with the symptoms. For the pain and tingling feeling he gets from the dying nerves, Cooper has medication he takes daily, and he has surgery scheduled in December to help fix his scoliosis.
Even with the challenges he faces every day, Heidi said he doesn’t let his condition stop him and his dad, Scott Meshew, said Cooper can even be quite stubborn.
“If there’s something that he doesn’t want to do, he’ll find every reason not to do it. But if there’s something that he wants to do, he’ll find every way that he can do it,” Scott said. “He doesn’t let many people tell him he can’t do something. … If he wants to do it, he’ll find a way or adapted piece of equipment or something to be able to accomplish it.”
Starting a business and getting a degree
This determination is something Cooper has carried into several aspects of his life, including the lawn care business he started.
Before the pandemic, Cooper worked at a dairy farm but was laid off once the pandemic hit and couldn’t find work anywhere else. With no job prospects, he decided to start his own business in July 2020 and named it Cooper’s Mowing Service.
Through his business he offers a variety of services including lawn rolling, aeration and brush clearing. He also offers weekly lawn maintenance which includes mowing the lawn, taking care of weeds and blowing off sidewalks.
The pricing of each job varies depending on the service, size of the property and the amount of extra help Cooper will have to bring in to do the service. While he enjoys the work he does, his parents and him have all agreed that he will step away from the business as the school year picks back up.
With only a few classes standing between him and graduating from Wooster High School in June 2022, Cooper said he plans to also take classes to finish his associates degree in agronomy, with a specialization in crop and soil management.
Cooper started his associate degree at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute through a program at his high school and is looking forward to completing the program in April.
Using knowledge he has gathered during his time at ATI, Cooper is looking forward to making his business official when he turns 18 by getting a license and hopes to grow his clientele and work force numbers after he graduates.
Affecting others and leaving a legacy
Outside of working on his business and attending school, one of Cooper’s biggest hobbies he enjoys is hunting.
When he was 10 years old, he went hunting for the very first time and enjoyed it so much a family friend convinced him to do something to help other kids with disabilities and medical conditions have the same opportunity.
This led Cooper to found Cooper McCoy Inc., also known as Hunt for Hope, when he was just 10 years old. Hunt for Hope is a nonprofit organization aimed at providing “educational and recreational opportunities for physically challenged, special needs and able-bodied youth,” according to the organization’s website.
Each fall and spring a group of six kids between the ages of 10 and 17 are chosen to join the staff and volunteers of Hunt for Hope to go hunting. Heidi said they have had kids come from all over the country, including as far as Wisconsin, South Carolina and Georgia.
Cooper and his parents said the expenses of the trip are mostly covered by the organization, including things like food, lodging and hunting licenses, except for transportation. They also work to accommodate any medical needs the kids have, whether they are physical or neurological, while also always ensuring their safety.
With how much they have helped others through this organization for the past seven years, Heidi said they hope to keep Hunt for Hope for years to come.
“This sounds kinda weird to say (but), his legacy,” Heidi said. “(We want to) make it into his legacy one day.”
Reach Rachel Karas at [email protected]
On Twitter: @RachelKaras3