My childhood was full of adversity. In 1991, I was a 17 year old risk taker, who felt invincible and craved peer attention. That October 8th, my life changed forever! A friend told me that someone threatened to shoot him at a party. I was using drugs and alcohol, and this triggered my feelings of invincibility. I needed to be a hero and protect my friend. I demanded to go.
I fought my friend’s attacker, who ended up leaving, but he returned with a gun. As I squared up to fight, he shot me in the neck, hitting a main artery, leaving my brain without oxygen for several minutes, and piercing my spinal cord at the C6 vertebra. The paramedics pronounced me dead, but, by the grace of God, I lived.
I am a survivor, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! I think often of my friends who have been shot, killed or injured for the most minute reasons. I use a wheelchair, and for 30 years I used my trauma to stand up against acts of senseless violence. I help others by preempting the reasons for violence. I sound the alarm to all, especially the youth, who like teenage me, feel invincible, think guns are cool, powerful and protective. Everytown and Moms Demand Action give me and others an outlet to discuss the issues that cause gun violence and advocate for policies to eliminate the roots of the problem.