BOOK: I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph Over Tragedy
Missy was one of eight students in a prayer group who were shot by a fellow student in the lobby of their Padukah, Kentucky high school. Her fortitude and faith keep her speaking on today’s urgent issues.
About the Author
Missy Jenkins nervously wheeled herself through the iron gates of the Kentucky State Reformatory. Waiting on the other side was Michael Carneal, a cold-blooded killer who put her in her wheelchair 10 years earlier. She was there to confront him face to face. The details of that historic meeting have never been publicly revealed – until now.
“I’ve always said that there will never be closure for me. But I think that visit was the closest I’ll ever come,” Missy says in her book, I Choose to be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph Over Tragedy.
Missy was one of eight students in a prayer group shot by Carneal on December 1, 1997 in the lobby of Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. Three girls were killed. Missy, a 15-year-old sophomore at the time, was paralyzed from the chest down.
But Missy didn’t see her disability as an end. Just hours after the tragedy, she forgave Carneal and took back her life. In the next decade, with no malice and a focus on her physical and mental rehabilitation, Missy would graduate from Heath, earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from Murray State University, become a counselor for troubled youth, get married and give birth to a healthy son.
Missy, now 26, has received numerous honors over the years for her determination and courage, including being one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Most Fascinating Women of 1998,” appearing on stage as Al Gore’s guest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, and being honored by former U.S. Attorney Janet Reno as “a leader in encouraging youth involvement in crime prevention.”
Through her book, Missy shares the intimate details of her fascinating life since the shooting, along with her opinions on the power of forgiveness, the devastating effects of bullying and Michael’s appeal to have his guilty plea and life sentence thrown out. This appeal is scheduled to be reviewed by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2009.
Sarah Brady, whose husband, Jim, was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has written the foreword to Missy’s book. “This courageous young woman has chosen to share her story in remarkable detail through this poignant book?Missy will take you on her incredible journey of sorrow, pain, joy, and triumph…. Some may read this and simply realize that her plight can put a bad day in perspective. Others may be able to relate to the more complex lessons she offers, such as the importance of forgiving the one who hurt you the most. But one thing is certain: there’s a lesson in here for everyone, young and old,” Brady says.
You can buy “I Choose to Be Happy” here: http://www.langmarc.com/book/i-choose-to-be-happy/