TUCSON, Ariz.Former U.S. Congresswoman and tire dealer Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, made a surprise appearance at the recent Tire Industry Association OTR Tire Conference, which was held in Tucson, her hometown.
Greeted by a standing ovation, her appearance came at the end of the conference's closing motivational speech by her husband, former NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly. She spoke briefly to the assembled crowd, urging them to, Get engaged. Be involved. Make a difference.
Ms. Giffords was elected to three terms as the U.S. Representative for her district in Arizona, serving from 2006 until she retired in January 2012 to concentrate on her recovery from the gunshot wound she suffered in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting.
Mr. Kelly told the audience the shooting, which killed six persons and wounded 12 others, happened just a few miles from the Westin La Paloma Hotel where the TIA conference was held.
He said Ms. Giffords insisted on coming along for his speech, considering who the audience was.
Ms. Giffords was elected to the House in November 2006. She was the only former tire dealer in Congress, having previously been president of Tuscon-based El Campo Tire & Service Centers Inc., the business founded by her grandfather.
Mr. Kelly is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, best-selling author, prostate cancer survivor and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War, TIA said. He became an astronaut in 1996 and flew his first of four missions into space in 2011 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor.
The couple also are active in Americans for Responsible Solutions, a non-profit they founded in 2012 to encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.