Highland Park, Community

Billy Corgan hopes July 8 wrestling show raises funds, spirits one year after shooting

Are you ready to fundraise?

Highland Parker Billy Corgan — of Smashing Pumpkins fame — is bringing his National Wrestling Alliance to town on Saturday, July 8, for a free show called HP Cares for Cooper, supporting HP shooting survivor Cooper Roberts and his family.

Corgan told The Record that the event aligns with the one-year mark since the horrific shooting in Highland Park on July 4 and serves as reminder that the recovery remains underway for 8-year-old Cooper and the whole community.

“It’s to support Cooper and the family and sort of get everyone out and have a good time,” Corgan said. “I think that’s been part of the healing here in Highland Park is to continually remind people that we need to be together, we need to laugh, we need to cry, we need to cheer on some wrestling as crazy as it sounds.

“There’s something about it that seems to change the temperature in the town a little bit. I think it’s very American to want to turn the page and move on, but there are times where you need to stop and remind people that this is still important and we can have fun doing it.”

Cooper Roberts (right) with his twin brother, Luke, who was also injured in the Highland Park shooting.

While the show is free, and Corgan said no one will be turned away at the door, tickets can be reserved online and suggested donations range from $20 (general admission) to $75 (VIP/first two rows) for the event at 2 p.m. on July 8 at the Recreation Center of Highland Park, 1207 Park Avenue West.

Donations from the event benefit the Roberts’ family charitable fund, which supports Cooper’s recovery. Cooper was shot and paralyzed during the attack, suffering a severed spinal cord that led to emergency surgeries, numerous followup procedures, and months of personal and physical therapy.

His twin brother, Luke, and his mother, Keely, were also injured in the shooting, and the funds benefit the entire family’s recovery, according to event organizers.

This is our home. … I just felt this tugging on my heart that I needed to take my position in the world and convert some of that to helping people.”
Billy Corgan, Highland Park resident and Smashing Pumpkins frontman

Cooper’s story has captured hearts worldwide. The initial fundraiser in his honor raised more than $2.25 million, and a second one was started to support the long-term care and at-home adaptive renovations.

“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has shown extraordinary love and support as we fight for Cooper,” Keely Roberts said in a statement. “It is the kindness and unwavering dedication of our community that has sustained us during these challenging months.” 

Corgan, the frontman of the rock band Smashing Pumpkins, is a 20-year Highland Park resident who co-owns Madame ZuZu’s Teahouse and Emporium, 1876 1st St., in Highland Park.

Corgan acquired the 75-year-old wrestling organization, NWA, in 2017. Under Corgan’s direction, NW put on two shows in Highland Park this April that raised money for Highland Park shooting victims and their families.

In the near aftermath of the tragedy, Corgan also headlined a free virtual concert, called Together and Together Again, in July 2022 for the same cause. And he held another free show this year.

“Highland Park is really important to us. … We’re part of this town and where this town goes from here is important to us. This is our home,” he said. “Secondarily, I just felt this tugging on my heart that I needed to take my position in the world and convert some of that to helping people here, even people I don’t know. It was important for me to stand up and say if I can do it certainly everyone else can.

“This free event on July 8, that’s part of my thinking, not just to raise money, which certainly is important, but also to demonstrate to people … that everybody is welcome to come and enjoy the day. I think that’s the tenor and tone I’m trying to set. We can lead and lead in different ways.”

Bully and Thom Latimer square off in the ring at an NWA event.

Doors open at 1 p.m. on July 8 for HP Cares for Cooper, and entry will be free. Donations can be made made in advance or on the day of the event. The July 8 show will feature NWA stars like Kamille, the NWA women’s champ; Mike Knox and Trevor Murdoch, the winners of the 2023 Crockett Cup; and EC3, the NWA heavyweight champ, among others.

The benefit show will be backed up on Sunday, July 9, with NWA Powerr Tapings with performances at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Studio One, 1799 Green Bay Road in Highland Park.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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