Black Lives Living with Paralysis: Listening to Survivors of Gun Violence and Health Equity

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on April 16, 2021 # Reeve Summit

Featured at this year’s Reeve Summit 2021 will be a session about gun violence - Black Lives Living with Paralysis: Listening to Survivors of Gun Violence and Health Equity.

Anyone can be impacted by gun violence, but this type of violence disproportionately impacts Black Americans. They experience nearly more gun-related violence, like ten times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults, and three times the fatal police shootings of White Americans. Leading community voices will take on the powerful discussion about their experience with gun violence in a virtual panel at the Reeve Summit 2021. “Black Lives Living with Paralysis: Listening to Survivors of Gun Violence and Health Equity” features moderator Jen Longdon in discussion with Wesley Hamilton, Felicia Gibson, and Tyra Randle. The Reeve Foundation is grateful these panelists are willing to share their personal stories, including about not only how they survived such a traumatic event but how they have gone on to thrive despite the deep inequities, barriers and stigma accessing resources and support. This session will be a part of the Reeve Summit on Thursday, April 29, 2021, from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM ET.


Survivors of Gun Violence and Health Equity PanelistJoin us at the Reeve Summit for: Black Lives Living with Paralysis: Listening to Survivors of Gun Violence and Health Equity

Panel moderator Jen Longdon is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. She is a Phoenix-based speaker, writer, and activist. Jennifer worked for three years as the content coordinator, chief writer and editor of LivAbility magazine, an Arizona-based quarterly lifestyle magazine. In 2004 she became paralyzed in a random shooting. Jennifer is an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities and strengthening laws to curb gun violence.

Tyra Randle is a survivor and a mother of two children. Over the next few years, she began her journey of working in the healthcare field. At the age of 28, Tyra gave birth to a son named Karter. After four years together, she decided to end the relationship with Karter’s father. He stalked and harassed Tyra for four days until he came to her home and shot her eight times while the children were there. Tyra moved Karter out of the way so he would not get hit by a bullet, and that is how she was shot in the back. One of those bullets ended up paralyzing Tyra. This is just the beginning for Tyra. She plans on turning her tragedy into a triumph, using her life-changing moment to become a motivational speaker as well as a philanthropist for the disabled. Tyra also wants to be an advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors. The goal is to be a victor and not a victim.

Felicia Gibson is a Reeve Regional Champion and Caregiver. Gibson began her caregiver journey in August 2018 after her boyfriend was shot and paralyzed in their driveway by robbers who were breaking into cars in the neighborhood. Both of their lives changed that night, and the world of spinal cord injuries became their new normal. Luckily, she joined an online support group and met someone connected to the Reeve Foundation, who introduced her to the Foundation, and she joined the Regional Champions program. The program has helped her meet with the local and federal legislature members to advocate for improvements to make their city accessible for everyone. She is also an ambassador for the Paralysis Resource Center, an A.C.E. certified group fitness instructor and a certified BodyBarre instructor.

Wesley Hamilton is a Professional Speaker, Athlete and Founder of Disabled But Not Really. Only five days after he turned 24 (January of 2012), everything changed dramatically. As he walked back to his car, Wes was shot multiple times, with one bullet slicing through his chest and fracturing a rib. The other entered his abdomen, partially severing his spine and paralyzing him below the waist. The shooter was a guy he’d never met. Wes spent the next three years in recovery. He knew he had to set an example for his daughter. Nevaeh. He started a fitness and nutrition regiment, which was completely foreign to him. Wes learned everything he could about nutrition and developed excellent culinary skills. In that first year, Wes lost 100 pounds. He felt his transformation had the potential to help others, so he founded a non-profit called Disabled But Not Really (DBNR).

We hope the panel will raise awareness about this important topic and offer a clear call to action for participants about how organizations like the Reeve Foundation and others can prioritize these communities who under-resourced with information and support.

The second annual virtual Reeve Summit 2021: Where Care, Cure and Community Connect will be from April 27-29, 2021.

You can read more about moderator Jen Longdon on the Reeve Foundations Hope Happens Here Spotlight.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.