Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Couldn’t Stop This Aspiring Farmer

Cooper Meshew was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease at a very young age. The disorder affects one person in about 2,500 individuals. In fact, Cooper has an extremely rare variant of CMT with odds of affecting one in approximately ten million people in the world. The disorder impacts motor nerves in the feet, arms, hands and legs with resulting atrophy and muscle weakness. Yet Cooper decided at a very young age he wanted a career in agriculture.

It is difficult to imagine that Cooper started his own landscaping company. He was managing very well but it was not exactly what he had planned. He calls himself a “city kid” who was raised in Wooster, Massachusetts. His only involvement in agriculture was playing with plastic tractors in his Livingroom.
Although Cooper was not the typical applicant for farm work, he applied for, and was accepted, at a summer job on a farm operating a tractor.

Cooper qualified for acceptance in a special category called an individualized educational program during his high school years due to his CMT diagnosis. Instead, he opted to apply for post-secondary courses at Ohio State and was accepted. That is when, in junior high school, he also began his courses in crop management. At the same time, in junior high school, Cooper started the Buckeye Brush and Turf lawncare company. He recalls that the experience taught him valuable managerial skills. Yet it was still not fulfilling his dream of working on a farm.

Cooper discovered his true passion once he began ATI classes at Ohio State. It was his first experience being on a corn field. The students began running the actual equipment in class.
He was still attending the ATI classes at Ohio State when he posted on a Facebook page looking for local farmers needing extra help. He specifically requested that the work involve operating a tractor.
He ignored all the jobs seeking help milking cows. He even went as far as offering to work without pay if the job included the use of a tractor.

It did not take long for Cooper to find the ideal summer job. Seth Houser, a local grain farmer in Wayne County, hired him to run the grain wagon for his crew. In 2022, Cooper received an Associate’s degree. He was eighteen. His landscaping business was growing, and he also helped Seth Houser as needed. But Cooper’s dream to work on larger fields out West was still in the back of his mind. He did not tell his parents that he had set up a post on a United States Custom Harvester page. Cooper zeroed in on crews looking for workers. In no time he had a list of 20 companies requesting an interview.

Cooper was forthright about his disabilities during his interview with the owners of Danielski Farms. He explained that he needed extra equipment to use a wrench and to run other types of equipment. The Danielskis assured Cooper that would not be a problem.

About Cooper’s Limited Mobility

CMT has caused Cooper to have limited use of his limbs on the right side of his body. Adaptive devices such as spinner knobs give him the ability to accomplish daily tasks such as running a tractor. In April of 2023 Cooper left his home for the first time in his life to begin working in Valentine, Nebraska.
Cooper admits that living on his own created a series of new responsibilities, especially with a disability. He eventually settled in, and daily commitments began to get easier.

He began his new adventures in Nebraska getting accustomed to the equipment. Once summer months began the crew started working throughout Oklahoma then headed south. Cooper said that there is no doubt that his favorite job was working for five weeks on a ranch in Texas. The crew harvested a total of 28,000 acres. He readily admits that initially he was a bit intimidated but caught on rather quickly. His only familiarity with farming involved photos that he found in magazines and YouTube videos.

Cooper managed to keep up with the workload and long days in the tractor cab. He returned home in mid-November. Cooper is especially grateful to the owners of Danielski Farms for hiring him as they could easily have turned him down and not have had to be involved with his illness. He says that they gave him a chance and he proved himself. He helped harvest thousands of acres of crops for Danielski Farms. Cooper hopes to return to the West and continue his agriculture career.

Taking one day at a time he is now at home with his family and working in varying capacities at the Hunt for Hope non-profit founded by his family. The organization, based in Ohio, arranges hunting trips with all expenses paid for three days. For hunters and their families, it is a wonderful opportunity.
As for Cooper, his adventures have just begun. He tries not to dwell on his CMT and just keep on moving. His motto is to concentrate on the present and not on his potential limits.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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