(TUCSON, Ariz.) — One year after the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., that almost claimed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life, the congresswoman is stringing together full sentences and even asking questions, her husband Mark Kelly told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
“She is continuing to improve each and every day,” Kelly told ABC News’ Dan Harris. “Just the other day she started asking me a few questions in a row. Back in March or April she hadn’t asked a single question about anything.”
In the most recent display of her progress, Giffords led a crowd gathered at the University of Arizona Mall in the Pledge of Allegiance Sunday night during a candlelight vigil held for the Tucson victims on the one year anniversary of the shooting. Six people were killed on Jan. 8, 2011 and 13 others, including Giffords, were injured.
On the day of the shooting, Kelly spent 20 heart wrenching minutes after seeing an erroneous report that said his wife had died.
Jared Loughner shot her in the back of her head. The bullet traveled the length of her brain on the left side and exited her skull. Kelly boarded a friend’s plane and rushed from Texas to the scene of the tragedy in Tucson.
This year has had its series of challenges, Kelly said, but Giffords continues to power through and reach new goals, just as she has all of her life — both inside and outside of Congress.
“She gets disappointed. You know it’s a natural thing when you’re struggling with this kind of injury and this kind of disability that’s she’s working really hard to recover from,” Kelly said. “But fortunately she’s just a very positive person and somebody who works really hard and she can see the improvement so it usually doesn’t last very long.”
Speaking at the vigil Sunday night, Kelly, referencing his wife, said the survivors of the shooting have shown that healing is possible.
“We’ve even seen it here tonight, as my incredible wife Gabby led us in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kelly said to cheers from the crowd.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Erin McClam, CNN
David Williams, CNN
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN