WASHINGTON — The last time she was at an EMILY’s List event in Washington, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was just months removed from a 2011 shooting and unable to speak as she accepted an award from the organization.
But Giffords found her voice this week, bringing hundreds of Democratic women to their feet as she told them “it’s been a long, hard haul, but I’m getting better.”
With the help of EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, Giffords made her way up the steps to the podium Tuesday night in front of a crowd applauding and cheering, “I love you, Gabby!”
The former Tucson congresswoman, flanked by Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick of Flagstaff and Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, smiled and waved to the crowd before slowly reading a prepared speech.
Even with slight pauses between each word, she kept the audience cheering after every sentence of her short statement.
Sinema called the close-to-minute-long speech an example of Gifford’s “incredible strength.”
“She is, without question, our hero,” Sinema said.
Kirkpatrick, who introduced Giffords with Sinema, said she has “learned a lot from Gabby, and in recent years, so have millions of young women leaders.”
“She has set a new standard for courage, resilience and determination,” Kirkpatrick said.
Giffords was in her third term in the House when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at her “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Tucson grocery store. Six people were killed in the shooting spree and 13 wounded, including Giffords and a then-staffer, Ron Barber, who since succeeded her in office.
Giffords, who was shot in the head, was placed in an induced coma after the attack and hospitalized for months during her recovery. She struggled to move and speak for some time and consequently resigned her seat in Congress in January 2012.
Her recovery has been slow, but Sinema said Giffords has made “tremendous progress.” With her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, Giffords founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, which aims to prevent gun violence. She has testified before Congress and traveled the country with Kelly in that cause.
Giffords was back in Washington on Tuesday to present a “rising star” award named in her honor to Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, one of three women recognized for their achievements as Democratic leaders.
Also honored were California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who each received a “We are EMILY” award honoring “an extraordinary woman who’s made a significant impact in our nation.”
EMILY’s List — EMILY stands for “early money is like yeast,” in that it “raises dough” — was created to support Democratic women running for office. It began in 1985 and has since funded and trained thousands of pro-choice women candidates across the country, including Sinema, Kirkpatrick and Giffords.
Sinema said the organization made a “huge difference” in her and Kirkpatrick’s 2012 campaigns, and that it is already lending support to her campaign this year.
Giffords, whose speech was the high point of the evening, told the crowd that she has had a difficult recovery and she is still receiving “lots of therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and yoga too.”
“But my spirit’s strong as ever,” she said. “I’m still fighting to make the world a better place.”
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy