Missy Jenkins-Smith (center), author of I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph Over Tragedy, was the featured speaker at a recent meeting of the Lions Club. The Murray Lions welcomed visitors from the Hopkinsville Lions, the Murray State Lions and Lions District 43-K 1st Vice President, Shirley Moore to hear her remarkable story of courage and forgiveness. Jenkins-Smith who was paralyzed by a bullet wound to her chest in the 1997 Heath High School shooting in which three students were killed and five, including Missy, were wounded, enthralled the audience with details about the day of the shooting and the many ways her life has changed as a result of that fateful day.
Missy, a 15-year-old sophomore at the time, was paralyzed from the chest down. But Missy didn’t see her disability as an end. Just hours after the tragedy, she forgave the shooter and took back her life. Over the subsequent 15 years, with no malice and a focus on her physical and mental rehabilitation, Missy would graduate from Heath, earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from Murray State University, become a counselor for troubled youth at a day treatment center, get married and give birth to two healthy sons. Missy, now 32, has received numerous honors over the years for her determination and courage, including being named “Kentuckian of the Year” and one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Most Fascinating Women. “Also shown are Lions Doug Crafton (left) and Jim Gray (right).