NEW YORK (AP) — Gabby Giffords, who's been devoting her time to pushing for tougher gun laws as she slowly recovers from her 2011 shooting, will now have $50,000 to donate to her cause, courtesy of designer Diane von Furstenberg.
Von Furstenberg's DVF Foundation is honoring the former Arizona congresswoman this week with its Inspiration Award, and Giffords plans to give the money to the Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation, which she formed with her husband, Mark Kelly, to educate the public about gun violence.
"Our leaders — both in Congress and in state legislatures around the country — must close the loopholes that let dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers buy guns without a background check," Giffords said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. "They must also do more to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, and we need strong laws that can help crack down on illegal gun trafficking."
In the email, Giffords also addressed her difficult recovery from the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and left her partially paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the head, calling it "tough, gritty and endlessly repetitive."
"It's been a long, hard haul, but I'm working hard and getting better every day," she wrote. "I am continuing to do speech therapy, physical therapy, and even some yoga, too. And while speaking and moving my right side remains physically very difficult for me, I am seeing progress. I'm still fighting."
Giffords added that she's "back to doing a lot of the things I love, like playing my French horn and riding my bicycle with Mark and good friends. This fall, I rode 11 miles in Tucson's annual bike race, El Tour de Tucson, and my goal is to do 40 miles in next year's race. "
And she said she was grateful, along with her husband, "to have a second chance at service, and we're using it to fight for laws that make our communities safer from gun violence."
Von Furstenberg created the DVF awards in 2010, along with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. The Inspiration Award goes to a woman who has demonstrated exceptional strength. Giffords will attend the awards ceremony Thursday at the United Nations and make remarks there.
In a telephone interview, the designer said she'd met Giffords last year at an event. "I was so impressed by her. She had the courage to fight, and the power to survive — and then the leadership to inspire," von Furstenberg said. "No matter what, she refused to be a victim, even though she was a victim."
Also to be honored at Thursday's ceremony: Melanne Verveer, director of the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace & Security. Verveer, who will receive the Lifetime Leadership award, served in the Obama administration as an ambassador-at-large for global women's issues.
Giffords, in the email, said that while Congress "still refuses to act" to reduce gun violence, "many leaders in the states are making some commonsense changes to their laws. In the last two years, a number of states have closed the loophole that lets dangerous people buy a gun without a background check, and many other states have acted to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers."
And she said she believes that "someday, Congress will finally catch up to where most Americans stand on laws that reduce gun violence, like background checks on gun sales."