Stoneleigh Foundation Grantee Oronde McClain authors an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer about his experience as a survivor of gun violence and how his work with other survivors has helped him begin to heal.
On April 3, 2000, when I was 10 years old, I was shot in the head. I was on an errand for my mother in East Mount Airy when someone opened fire near me.
My shooter has never been caught.
I spent weeks in a coma. I couldn’t speak for six months. I needed a wheelchair for a year and a half. I had to relearn how to walk, talk, and write with my left hand, as my right side was partially paralyzed. People teased me, because I walked and talked differently. Over the years, I saw no future for myself. I wished I hadn’t survived the shooting, and tried to take my own life more than a dozen times.
I was also angry. I thought about what my life might have been if I hadn’t been shot that day, all the potential that was robbed by a bullet — maybe I would have been an NBA player, or running a company. Mostly, I was angry at the people around me. I felt as if no one in the city or state cared what happened. When it comes to gun violence, we talk more about murders than survivors, but more than 1,000 Philadelphians have survived a shooting in 2022 so far. How will this affect the rest of their lives?