TUCSON, Ariz.— Former U.S. Congresswoman and tire dealer Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011, made a surprise appearance at the recent Tire Industry Association OTR Tire Conference, which was held in Tucson, her hometown.
She was greeted by a standing ovation. Her appearance came at the end of the conference's closing motivational speech by her husband, former NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly.
She spoke briefly to the assembled crowd, urging them to, “Get engaged. Be involved. Make a difference.”
Giffords was elected to three terms as the U.S. Representative for her district in Arizona, serving from 2006 until she retired in January 2012 to concentrate on her recovery from the gunshot wound she suffered in the Jan. 8 shooting.
Kelly told the audience the shooting, which killed six and wounded 12 others, happened just a few miles from the Westin La Paloma Hotel, where the TIA conference was held.
He said Giffords insisted on coming along for his speech, considering who the audience was.
Giffords was elected to the House in November 2006. She was the only former tire dealer in Congress, having previously been president of Tuscon, Ariz.-based El Campo Tire & Service Centers Inc., the business founded by her grandfather.