National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:

Dawn Weiss

Yorktown, VA

Entry Photo for Dawn Weiss - Yorktown, VA

My life prior to May 2, 2007 was filled with being a full time mother, radiology student and military wife. I enjoyed running, swimming and training to compete in a triathlon. My husband was deployed often and I found a routine that helped the days pass quickly. My life changed in an instant.

Throughout life, one may experience a horrific life changing event; one so traumatic that it changes his or her life as they once knew it. As a result the person is left with nightmares that seem to not only haunt them while asleep, but also in the conscious state as well. On May 2, 2007, I found myself involved in a traumatic event which seemed to have chosen me as the target and changed the existing world around not only myself but my family’s life forever. I and my two young daughters were held hostage at gunpoint in a home invasion by four teenagers. I allowed the robbers to think they had control of me physically and mentally while I waited for a window of opportunity to flee to get my daughters to safety. However, while trying to escape things went horribly wrong; two of the robbers shot me point blank 5 times, paralyzing me from the chest down, as I fell on top of my daughters unable to move. My daughter were not injured physically; however, the mental scars persist to this day. I spent three weeks in ICU and on life support. I was left with two shattered bones, a collapsed lung, a broken vertebra an injured spleen and kidney and paralyzed from the chest down.

Over the past nine years, our family continues to overcome this horrific night and our healing process has made us closer. I have been blessed to be able to go to local schools, with my service dog, and discuss disabilities and service animals to the children. I have realized that my future is meant to help other teenagers succeed in life through telling my experiences at high school and colleges. I have come to understand that change can bring beautiful triumphs and many blessings that overcome the darkness of a tragedy. My life was indeed changed on May 2, 2007; yet, in some sort of way the good from it has endured, carried on, and has overcome the events of that horrific night.