BRENHAM, Texas It started with 22 pounds of rolling plastic and circuitry, and ended up changing a Brenham boy's life forever.
Nine-year-old CJ Cook was born ten weeks early. He has Immunodeficieny, also called immune deficiency. It's a state in which the immune system ability to fight infectious disease is compromised.
Until a few months ago, he was mostly homebound, unable to even go to school with his friends. In October of 2013, Cook was introduced to a robot called VGo. The robot rolls from class to class, and Cook controls it from the safety of his home. The robot has audio and video capabilities that allow Cook to interact with students and classmates.
Cook said his first day at school was memorable.
"They're all cheering for me. It's just like a football game, I guess you could say," said Cook.
Cook's mom, Lauren, said it's more than going to school.
"It's him growing up and getting friends, and just being a little nine-year-old boy," said Lauren.
The program, Morgan's Angels, is designed to get robots to kids like Cook, and help them get back to school. It's the brain child of Kip Robins with the Region 6 Education Service Center.
"I bought one robot, thinking I would be able to help a kid somewhere in my region," said Robins. "Little did I know, a year later we would have helped 23 students and been in 16 school districts."
Robins said he doesn't want to stop there. But at a cost of around $5,000 each, Robins said every donated dollar goes a long way.
The Cook family recently held a fund raiser in Brenham. CJ's grandfather, Travis, said they're very grateful for the robot and the change its made in their lives. This was just one way of saying thanks.
"We're very fortunate, and we feel like the very least we can do is pay this forward," said Travis.
Little CJ was at the event. His family said Cook is able to leave the house and go to events like the fund raiser on a limited basis.
News 3's David Norris caught up with CJ and enlisted his help as a reporter.
CJ went right to work, asking questions like a pro. He eventually found his homeroom teacher, Lori Prewitt, who works with CJ and his robot on a daily basis.
"I understand you actually get to see the robot in action. How do you feel about seeing it in action?" asked CJ.
"I love seeing the robot in action," said Prewitt. "And I love seeing the expression on your face when he's in action."
Prewitt said CJ's fellow students took right to the robot.
"Even though he's through the robot, CJ has become a real part of the class," said Prewitt.
The family said they raised around $55k for Morgan's Angels.
For more information on Region 6 and Morgan's Angels, click on the links added to this story.
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