TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Mark Kelly said he was in Houston training for a NASA mission when he got word his wife Gabby Giffords had been shot.
“I was on a plane in 45 minutes, on my way here,” he said.
Since he arrived back to Tucson those 10 years ago, he has been a constant presence at Gabby’s side.
He held her hand as she fought for her life, refusing to let go as she was transported to Houston to continue her rehabilitation. During that short ambulance ride, Tucson residents lined the route to send their well wishes.
“I remember she could hear the people,” Kelly said. “She couldn’t see because she was on a stretcher, but she could hear all the people who were lined up. It was quite the moment. I remember some tears running down her face right there in the ambulance,”
Hand-in-hand, Kelly stayed by her side when she briefly returned to Congress.
Kelly resigned from the astronaut program a few months after the shooting to care for his wife and help with her rehabilitation.
She began writing a book about her recovery, work that continues to this day.
“Every day she impresses me that she continues to work on her rehabilitation, speech therapy, physical therapy to get back much of what she lost that day,” Kelly said.
Because she lost her ability to perform at a high level, she also lost her seat in Congress.
“Gabby and I, that’s what drew me to her and vice versa is our commitment to this country,” Kelly said.
That commitment lives on in Gabby’s role in gun legislation.
Kelly, now a Senator, was candid when asked if he would have gotten into politics had Jan. 8 not happened.
“I do not think so, no,” he said. “I’ll be perfectly honest about that.”
Kelly said Gabby has helped him forge his own political career.
“I’ve got a fabulous partner who can give me advice along the way,” he said. “(She’s) somebody who has walked in these shoes. She offers a lot of great advice.”
Not just the advice, but leading by example as she continues to be an inspiration to Kelly and the Tucson community.
Now a decade later, the community is forging that love into a permanent display but it’s more than that.
Just as her fight back has inspired many, it’s hoped that the Jan. 8th Memorial will serve as a reminder about overcoming adversity.
“It’s so important that when something bad happens, you pick yourself up and figure out ways to do it better,” Kelly said. “You try to come together as a team and a community.”