Three-and-a-half years after a drive-by shooting in Miami Gardens sent a bullet through the trunk of a car and into Megan Hobson’s pelvis, the 20-year-old from Miami Lakes continues to heal. She has had four surgeries to reconstruct her intestines, uterus and hip, and still has trouble walking on her right leg.
“I really struggle all the time,” Hobson said yesterday at a march to push for gun safety. “I struggled through high school. I have PTSD. Sometimes I get depressed that this is my life, but I just try to do whatever I can to help others.”
Hobson shared her story in front of dozens of people gathered in David T. Kennedy Park in Coral Gables, at the Miami “Orange Walk.” Organized by Moms Demand Action, the walk was one of more than 100 events over the weekend in 43 states to push for stricter gun laws, timed to the three-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 children and six adults.
Hobson led the group in a call-and-response. “For all victims of gun violence,” she shouted. “We walk today.”
Gaby Padrón Loewenstein recently started the Miami Moms Demand Action group after being involved in the Florida chapter for the past three years. Moms is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Loewenstein, who is originally from Venezuela, said the local group is currently recruiting active volunteers to help organize those who want stricter gun laws in our city.
“I was helping at my son's daycare when Sandy Hook happened, and it made me feel so helpless, terrified and later angry at the lack of action from the government,” Loewenstein says. “I couldn't believe the lack of guts, and the poor explanation for their inaction.”
In the three years since the Sandy Hook shooting, 554 children under 12 killed have been killed by guns in the United States.
At Sunday’s event, many wore orange, the color of the gun violence awareness movement. Two children shared their hopes for a future without gun violence. A paramedic told of his years attending to a horrific number of victims in Miami. Denise Brown, who lost her son to a drive-by shooting in 2012, spoke of her years helping other parents whose children have been murdered. Brown runs RJT Foundation with two other mothers in Miami Gardens.
Lowenstein says those who want to get involved and attend local events should sign up online.
Hobson, who is now a student at Barry University, said that events like Orange Walk help her find a sense of closure after the shooting. The drive-by shooting was labelled “gang initiation retaliation” and the case was filed inactive.
Her mom, Annmarie Hobson, cries as she speaks of her daughter’s strength.
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“She took 35 units of blood,” Annmarie says. “It was just incredible.”
In 2013, Hobson was invited by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to attend the State of the Union address in Washington, DC.
She also completed an internship in Wasserman Schultz’s office and helps local trauma victims.
“This is what helps me heal, because it can be sad and depressing,” she says. “I feel like I’d rather look into it, do something about it. There must be a reason this happened.”