My Hero

Alphonso Staples, otherwise known as Al, was the single most influential person I encountered on September 6, 2018. I’ve spoken very publicly about this man and I want you to know what he means to me. In a world filled with gun violence and times of despair, it is equally important to look for the good. And that’s Al, as good as it gets.

While I spent only a few minutes in that revolving door, my time there was divided into BA (Before Al) and AA (After Al). During the BA period my mind was consumed with despair. I had played through all the scenarios for survival and none seemed realistic. I had transitioned to defeat and started my final prayer with God. Then I saw Al.

From the moment I saw his frightened yet kind face, I knew I was back in business. I can only speak to my trauma, but finding a solution when you believe none exists, is exhilarating. My adrenaline started pumping and I shifted into survival mode.

I could see the fear in Al’s eyes as he took in the full picture of that morning. But I didn’t draw fear from him, I drew strength. Immediately I started to call for him, “I’ve got a 5 and a 7 year old that need their mother. Come save me!”

Al couldn’t save me immediately, which seemed confusing and frustrating at the time, but I’ve since learned about active shooter protocol and the importance of stopping the immediate danger first. And while it felt like eternity to me, only minutes passed before Al was on his feet and running to my rescue as he pulled me out of that revolving door.

I want to thank Al for being my source of strength and hope at the exact right time. I want to thank Al for the kindness and love he conveyed to me through his eyes and actions in that terrible moment. I want to thank him for thinking so quickly to get my husband on the phone and for conveying the awful news and next steps. I want to thank him and all of the other wonderful police officers for their service to me and other Cincinnatians on that day and every day.

There are a lot of humbling nouns and adjectives being used in conjunction with my name, hero being one of them. I can understand the thought process, but I reserve that word for all of the officers that saved my life on that day, particularly Al. These officers knowingly step into danger on a far more regular basis than any of us - me included! To knowingly face danger to save the lives of others is heroic. To fight to save your own life seems to pale in comparison, but maybe that is just me.

I’ve just finished up another surgery to place a bone graft in my right humerus. Luckily, Al was able to visit me in the hospital. We’ve talked nearly every week, but this was our first face-to-face since the shooting. I was also blessed to meet and listen to his sextet that he has participated in through his church for over 20 years!

Al is the kind of man that makes you feel safe instantly. His warm presence makes for easy conversation and the joy he is exudes is radiating. He is at peace with himself and his place in this world, and every bit of that has rubbed off on me. I pinch myself that my hero, the man I will be connected to for life, is such an exemplary human being!

The pictures and videos below are from our visit in the hospital. His wife and the members of the sextet were just as warm and welcoming. We are all blessed. Thank you, Al.