LAKELAND, Fla. - A Tampa Bay area woman and domestic violence survivor said this coming weekend is a highlight of her entire year.
It's a chance for her to tell her survivor story at a local fundraiser that draws hundreds of people each year in Polk County, and Kathy Haley has just one request for all of those people she will meet, "I want them to ask me why I'm in a wheelchair," she said.
That question is Haley's opening to share her survivor story. "It almost died because of it," she said.
In 1999, Haley's then husband shot her four times, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, before turning the gun on himself.
Haley said she had never come forward or asked for help in suffering years of abuse before that fateful night. "I kept it in because I was embarrassed," she said. Haley is now determined to tell anyone who will listen to let it out. "There is help. You don't have to stay in an abusive relationship," she said.
Haley will spread that message on Saturday at a 5k run/walk in Lakeland to raise awareness and funding for domestic violence victims' families and survivors.
Haley said she hopes the hundreds of people at that walk will say hello, listen to her story and ask where to find help if they need it. "I just want to be a voice to let others know there is a way out. My goal is to help at least one person, and then I've done what I was kept alive to do, help others," she said.
To register or learn more about the Purple Ribbon Walk in Lakeland, visit http://www.heathershope.net/heathers-hope-5k-lakeland.html .