Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords of Arizona is skydiving Wednesday, the third anniversary of a rampage that killed six people and left the legislator partially paralyzed.
Giffords, 43, was one of more than a dozen people who were wounded in the mass shooting that took place Jan. 8, 2011, as the Democratic congresswoman gathered for a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson.
The injuries Giffords suffered during the massacre halted her political career but gave birth to her new role as a champion of gun control efforts.
Skydiving symbolizes Giffords’ efforts to continue to wrest control of her life, according to a flurry of tweets and an interview with “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie, who is accompanying Giffords on her milestone endeavour in Arizona.
Skydiving was something Giffords enjoyed prior to the attack, and it’s a hobby she plans to resume now that she has made so much progress during her recovery.
The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 25, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the attack.
Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against Loughner, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, at the behest of the survivors and the families of those killed.
The skydive will be one of many ways in which the rampage will be marked and victims honored.
Giffords wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times this week in which she drew a parallel between her long struggle with physical therapy and rehab and the uphill fight for gun control:
“We’re not daunted. We know that the gun lobby, which makes money by preventing sensible change, relies on dramatic disappointments to wound us, reduce our power, push us back on our heels.”
Here’s a look at a few of Giffords’ tweets from earlier today.
Today, I grieve, I remember, and I take another step. I’m stronger now. I’m winning back movement in my right arm.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2014
I have the opportunity to do something I love: skydiving with my friend, former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch. pic.twitter.com/7XlTiyQRfO— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2014