MARK KELLY & GABBY GIFFORDS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19
Captain Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired US Navy Captain, best selling-author, prostate cancer survivor, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. The winner of many awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Defense Superior Service Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He has also commanded Space Shuttle Discovery and is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
Already a celebrated American, Kelly became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience with the world. The inspirational memoir has topped multiple best-seller lists, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon. Named on of the Esquire’s 2011 "Americans of the Year,” Kelly was also featured on the cover of and profiled in the magazine. He published his first children’s book in October 2012, titled Mousetronaut: A Partially True Story.
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was first elected to Arizona's 8th Congressional District seat in 2006 and won reelections in 2008 and 2010. Then, on January 8, 2011, a would-be assassin opened fire at a local event in Tucson, where Giffords was meeting with constituents. Six people were killed, and 13 others were injured in the attack. Among the injured was Giffords, who sustained a gunshot wound to the head and faced immediate neurosurgery to treat her life-threatening injuries.
Giffords was a Fulbright Scholar and holds a bachelor of arts degree from Scripps College and a master’s from Cornell University. Before coming to Washington, DC, she served in the Arizona state House of Representatives from 2001 until 2003 and in the Arizona state Senate from 2003 until 2005, where she was the youngest woman ever elected to that body.
Giffords resigned her Congressional seat in January 2012, choosing to focus on her continued recovery. Upon stepping down, she announced, "I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country."