The focus of National Gun Violence Survivors Week is on sharing gun violence survivors’ stories in their own words and encouraging allies to amplify their voices, especially those who are under-represented in our national dialogue. In 2023, we will be highlighting the role of gun violence survivors as changemakers who are leading efforts to end gun violence and support other survivors in their communities.
Below are excerpts from the stories of our 2023 Survivor Changemakers. Click through to read and share their full stories.
“My son was taken from me. While I did not choose to be a survivor, I joined the gun violence prevention movement because I don’t want somebody else to experience the same pain I’ve endured. If they have, I want them to know that there are people like me who have their back.”
“My work has put me on so many different platforms of advocacy, which has helped me become a stronger person. I still struggle with depression sometimes, when I have to miss a day of work because of personal care challenges related to being disabled. But knowing I have a cause helps me.”
“I always describe gun violence as a shadow: It’s there, no matter where you are… The more we can educate people, the stronger the movement will become. We should never underestimate the power of education.”
Dr. Michael Hirsh
“I got a beep notifying us of a trauma patient coming into the emergency department. I ran down and saw John being rushed in on a gurney… We worked hard to get him back. We got him on bypass, but there was no brain activity. John was gone and there was nothing we could do.”
“My brother, Louis Arthur Pacheco, the youngest of our six siblings and a pretty happy go-lucky guy, was 27 years old when he died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. It changed my life forever, and truthfully, the lives of everybody in our nuclear family, as well as our extended family and friends.”
“My son would be 34-years-old this year. I wonder: What would he be doing? He would be raising his daughter, Ciara, born just four months after the shooting. Such an intelligent young man, he really could have been a changemaker in this world.”
“My advocacy work has carried me on my grief journey; it truly has helped me through some of the darkest times in my life. I’m able to feel without feeling guilty, because I’m around people who have experienced a lot of the same things.”