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In June 2007, when I was working at my first job as program manager for our local arts festival, an individual crashed through our event site with a car while we were setting up.

He came out of the vehicle disoriented … and with a gun.

Now over a decade later, some parts of that day are a blur. Others are not:

I’ll never forget screaming with fellow staff over our walkie-talkies, all of us at various locations around the large site, the emergency “code word” … which was soon abandoned for, “Take cover! He has a gun!”

I’ll never forget watching the gunman come down the street and the intense rush of panic as I realized he was headed in our direction.

I’ll never forget being pulled into a store entryway by a local business owner as he attempted to shield me from harm by getting between myself and the gunman.

I’ll never forget crouching behind that store owner, praying the gunman wouldn’t look our way and watching with a sigh of relief as he passed by us on the pavement.

I’ll never forget my mind racing in fear that more individuals were in harm’s way and thus, running back onto the street and trying to spot where the gunman was located.

I’ll never forget hearing police gunshots as they arrived on the scene and stopped the gunman, who was by that time attempting to steal a getaway vehicle.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. But it still causes my heart to race and voice to tremble a bit when I think about it, to this day, and even more so when I see gun violence on the news and think about what others go through.

Soon after the situation had calmed down, our team made sure all were okay and put on what I’d say was one amazing arts festival. The community supported the event by the hundreds of thousands, and together we all celebrated a 10-year tradition that was, and still is, loved by many.

But it was in that moment, my view of guns was forever changed.

We don’t have to live like this.

Together, we can end gun violence. Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, everyone … Let’s do this, folks. #KeepGoing

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