After the Jan. 8 assassination attempt that nearly ended her life, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has become a household name, with the world watching as she continues to defy the odds.
Since the moment President Barack Obama announced to the nation on Jan. 12 that Giffords had opened her eyes, to the first photos of the congresswoman being released in June, the world is seizing every opportunity to hear about her progress.
C.J. Karamargin, the congresswoman’s director of communications, said, “The outpouring of support and affection that we saw after Jan. 8 has been amazing. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that it would continue. It is all very touching.”
Karamargin proved his point by showing a vase now on display at the Congresswoman’s district office. The handcrafted wooden vase was given to the office with an inscription on the bottom saying, “In Memory.”
Giffords’ newly relocated office at 3945 E. Fort Lowell is filled with gifts from friends and strangers who want to show their support. In the break room is a framed piece of artwork that stands more than three feet tall. Karamargin said they don’t know the artist or who sent it, but noted it’s obvious a lot of time and energy went into the hand-drawn portrait of Giffords with signatures surrounding it.
“This is an example of many of the gifts we have received,” he said. “This is something that took a lot of time. Someone put a lot of effort into this, and didn’t even want credit for it. The generosity is amazing.”
Karamargin, who regularly visits Giffords in Houston, said the congresswoman is very touched by the continued support.
“It’s very emotional for her,” he said. “Like us, I don’t think she can believe it at times. If there is such a thing as karma, all those prayers and all those positive thoughts are making a difference.”
The mounds of cards and gifts being catalogued by office intern Mary Myles show the support is not just from Giffords’ home state. Some cards were sent from Texas, others from Pennsylvania, and, according Karamargin, some have traveled to Arizona from around the world.
When asked why he thought Giffords continues to receive the outpouring of support six months after the shooting, he said she’s an inspiration.
“I really think people want something and someone to invest their hopes in,” he said. “I think to some extent Gabby has become that person. It does put some pressure on her, but at the same time what she has done in this short amount of time is miraculous. Everyone can relate to that.
“No matter who you are, where you live, what your politics are – this is a woman who survived a gunshot wound to the head. People are investing a large degree of hope in her recovery.”
Staff members in the district office said others who have suffered from traumatic brain surgery have also felt a connection to the congresswoman. They have called and shared their own stories of survival.
When it comes to social media, Giffords has received tens of thousands of messages of hope and encouragement.
Deputy press secretary Ashley Nash-Hahn said Giffords’ Facebook page currently has more than 52,000 members, and there are 55,000 following the congresswoman’s progress on Twitter.