Hello! My name is Nathaniel Tavarez. On January 14, 2014, my life was changed forever. I woke up, excited to return to school after winter break. I entered the gym that morning, reconnecting with all my friends. Minutes later, a student had taken a 20-gauge shotgun into the school gym, firing three random shots while losing control of the firearm. One other student and I were hit. I was 10 feet away, on the lowest level of the bleachers. Immediately after the gunfire started, my vision was gone, and I fell straight to the ground with a never-ending ringing in my ears.
Two staff members came to me as I was trying to get up and help other students—even though I couldn’t see. They laid me down and told me everything was going to be all right. Then I “passed out” (my heart stopped). After waking up in the hospital two weeks later, I was told I lost 7 units of blood, I was blind, and I had more than a thousand pellets in my body with lead poisoning. After multiple surgeries, I am thankful to have vision restored in my right eye and to be alive today!