LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville wife and mother wounded in a mass workplace shooting is giving up her job to focus on preventing more gun violence.
Whitney Austin was shot 12 times when she went to work as a project manager at Fifth Third headquarters in Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2018. Three people were killed before the gunman was killed by police.
Austin survived her injuries and started a nonprofit organization called Whitney Strong. Its goal is to reduce all forms of gun violence. Austin said the calling was on her heart before the mass shooting.
"Sometimes, you stay up all night reading about the victims and the details of the event," said Whitney Austin, now the executive director of Whitney Strong. "And I felt compelled enough after Parkland to do something."
The 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school prompted Austin to sign up to receive text alerts about mass shootings, hoping to one day make a difference.
"But I never ended up doing anything other than receiving those text messages," Austin said.
Austin said the mission eventually came to her. While bleeding and fighting for her life on the floor of the Fifth Third Center in Cincinnati, she partly blamed herself.
"And I thought, 'You deserve it. You've done nothing. You've done nothing to prevent this from happening to you or anyone else for that matter, so you have to do something about this," she said.
So, despite being shot 12 times, Austin said the internal message to self was crystal clear.
"If you get out of this, and you get to go back to your family, to those that matter most to you, then it will be your need to pay this back," she said.
So in addition to several surgeries and ongoing therapy, Austin started Whitney Strong.
"Our goal is to reduce the number of gun deaths year over year and to do it through responsible gun ownership," she said.
So at only 38 years old, she is taking Whitney Strong, her mission and message all the way to the nation's capital.
"We've had meetings with Congressman John Yarmuth and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell," Austin said.
After meeting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Austin believes they all want the same thing.
"I think they have completely different views as to how we approach the issue," she said.
Austin hopes Whitney Strong can help lawmakers find common ground. Whitney Strong will also fight for better enforcement of laws already on the books, background checks, a suicide prevention campaign that incorporates gun ranges, gun shops, training for mental health professionals and the championing of a red flag law in Kentucky.
It would allow family or household members, in addition to law enforcement, to petition a court to keep guns away from a dangerous person in crisis.
Austin told WDRB News in April that she continues her physical recovery from the shooting. She said she's at about 90% and is working to regain full motion in her arm and hand. The family added a therapy cat to the home, because petting helps with range of motion. Austin named him Alphonzo in honor of Alphonzo Staples, the Cincinnati officer who came to her rescue.
Right now, Austin is planning a gala to help raise money for the nonprofit. The gala will be held on Sept. 6, which is the first anniversary of the mass shooting.
You can donate or find out more about the organization by clicking here.
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