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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Kelly visits UA campus, promotes new book

Robert Alcaraz
Robert Alcaraz/ Arizona Daily Wildcat US Navy Captain and former American astronaut Mark Kelly speaks to NPR Correspondent Ted Robbins about his book, Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly, at Centennial Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Kelly also signed copies of his book for audience members.

U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, author and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, discussed her current condition and their new book on Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

Audience members included Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, City Council members, UA students and local residents. The book is titled “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.”

“It’s an honor to welcome Captain Kelly and we are honored to have him choose the Tucson Festival of Books as well as the UA community,” said Brenda Viner, co-founder of the Tucson Festival of Books, which presented the event. “We will all continue to give him and Gabby a warm Tucson welcome.”

Kelly’s discussion opened with Giffords’ medical status. He said Giffords spends five hours a day in physical therapy.

“Gabby works really, really hard every single day. In the beginning in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), we would see drastic improvements hour to hour,” Kelly said. “We still see that, not hour to hour, but more so week to week.”

Attendees were given the opportunity to listen to a small audio recording of the congresswoman, which originally appeared on the Arizona Daily Star’s website.

“I miss you, I miss Tucson, the mountains, the blue sky, even the heat. I’m getting stronger; I’m getting better. I want to get back to work. Representing Arizona is my honor. I miss you, I miss home. I will see you really soon,” Giffords said during the recording.

Kelly said Giffords still continues to have trouble with communication, but her personality has not changed.

“She is an incredibly passionate person,” he said, and she “reads people’s feelings very well.”

Kelly had a difficult time talking about the death of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, one of the victims killed on Jan. 8.

“A little girl who was interested in democracy, who was only 9, was killed,” Kelly said. “I was surrounded by a lot of help. I had a lot of people around me. I got lucky and had a lot of help. It’s always good to have people around to bounce things off of.”

He commended the work that Giffords’ staff has continued to do without her presence, and expressed gratitude for the nation’s continued support.

Kelly also said he recalls getting no sleep on the first two days after Jan. 8, and that his family, including daughters Claudia and Claire, have been through many “highs and lows.”

The book was written to document Giffords’ continuing recovery, Kelly said.

“I have a bad short-term memory and I knew people would be asking me about the story,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do. We did not leave anything out.”

One anecdote included in the book was Giffords’ love for Paul David Hewson, also known as U2’s lead singer Bono. Bono has stayed in touch with Kelly for updates on Giffords’ health. On their desks, Giffords and Bono each keep a picture of one another taken years ago.
“Congresswoman Giffords has made me appreciate the Tucson community more. She (Giffords) and Kelly continue to inspire me.” said Cadia Hernandez, a wildlife conservation senior who attended the event.

As a retiree, Kelly said his main job is to help Giffords get back to work. He did not say if the congresswoman plans to run for re-election, but said that she will make a decision within the next several months.

“I am Gabby’s biggest fan,” he said.

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