As bride Bridget Kelly walked down the aisle on July 7, a band played, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone…" A decade ago, when she was only 24, her parents weren't sure if she would live or die, let alone see her wedding day.
"Tubes protruded from her mouth and her nose," her dad Michael Kelly wrote in a recent column for the Omaha World-Journal, "A machine helped her breathe...she had very nearly lost her life to three 9 mm gunshots from a stranger."
In 2002, Kelly was working as a first grade teacher at Fort Hood in Texas. One night, after returning to her apartment late after picking up a friend at the airport, a man kicked in her door, abducted her, and drove to a desolate field behind a subdivision. Raised a Catholic, she recited "Hail Mary's" to get herself through the horrific ordeal that followed. Her assailant raped her, shot her in the back, and left her for dead. Miraculously, she crawled to the home of Frank James, a retired veteran of Desert Storm, who wrapped her naked, bloodied body in a blanket and called 911.
The days that followed were touch and go, but, despite sustaining severe internal wounds, Kelly survived. It took months to recover, but when she had healed, she became a fierce advocate for victims of sexual assault. ABC's "Prime Time" picked up on her story and sent producer Eric Strauss to cover it along with reporter Charlie Gibson. When Kelly moved to New York City to pursue a master's degree, she and Strauss became friends. A year ago, he proposed.
For their wedding, the bride and groom wrote their own vows. "You revealed yourself to be a beautiful warrior the second I met you," said Strauss. Kelly replied, ""You accept me for who I am and make me feel safe and happy--because I have someone great to share good times, to survive hard times, and to keep me company all the time." Kelly's dad reported that the congregation was "all smiles," one would guess all tears as well.
Also on Shine:
What Does it Take for People to Get Outraged About Sexual Assault?