ASHLAND, Ohio (WJW) — A local middle school football player who has been diagnosed with a rare disability is inspiring his teammates and the community.

“I like the excitement of the game. And the feeling,” said Cooper Sanders, a seventh-grader at Crestview Middle School in Ashland.

Thursday was his last game of the regular middle school football season.

“He’s a great kid, he helps, and a great teammate. He’s an inspiration with his perseverance,” said Jason Goon, head coach.

Cooper was diagnosed with a rare disability in 2019.

“It is called venous malformation. It surrounds his sciatic nerve and goes down his left leg,” said his mother Julie Sanders.

Julie said enlarged lesions developed inside his left leg and hip.

“The reality is they don’t know how much longer he will be able to physically walk. There are times in the morning when we have to pick him up and take him to the bathroom and get him moving,” said Julie.

Julie said there is no cure, only treatment.

“He takes oral pills every morning and night. He has blood work all the time, physical therapy,” she said.

Cooper has already had seven surgeries. He is due for an eighth, however, he got his doctor to push it back until after the football season.

Cooper refuses to give up on his dream of playing football.

“I want to be a professional football player. I want to play for the Browns,” said Cooper.