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December 15, 2001, was the day that my life changed. I was 18 years old and looking forward to my 19th birthday coming up the following month. It was a cold winter night in West Philly, and I was with a couple of high school friends. It was the three of us in the car a little past 1 a.m. We pulled up to a stop sign and saw another car sitting at the opposite stop sign, and we drove past. I looked at the car, and the headlights were out. I looked out the back window and saw something big, bright and silver coming from the driver’s window; before my brain could fully comprehend what was going on, my body immediately begun to react, and all I could do was duck down.

Gunfire then rung out; it felt like eternity. I just knew at that moment that it was the end. I could smell the smoke as he continued to fire into our car. Suddenly, the gunfire stopped and he sped off. We were screaming for him to drive away. We somehow ended up back at the church. We ran into the church screaming about what happened, and my friend who drove collapsed on the ground. I remember the police leading me out of the church as I was weeping. They told us that the gunman shot 16 rounds at us with a really powerful gun and that we were lucky.

I am now a 36-year-old woman that still suffers from this night. I have a hard time driving still, especially at night. I suffer from PTSD and anxiety; it’s hard for me to even walk outside sometimes. This has altered my life in more ways than I have ever imagined. The MIRACULOUS news is that the three of us in that car SURVIVED, but the emotional wounds are still there. December 15, 2001 is the day that I will remember for the rest of my life. A day that I got another chance.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.