For the past several days I have been searching for the right words to describe Kevin Neary.
I remain pretty much at a loss.
We have chronicled Kevin’s saga extensively in the past few months. You can read our latest story here.
We revisited the story last week as Kevin went into court to fact the man responsible for his current condition.
Kevin did not walk into court. He is confined to a wheelchair, breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Kevin was there, along with family and friends, to offer a Victim Impact Statement for the sentencing of the man who confronted him in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2011, as he walked home in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.
The 29-year-old Neary was running his own business in health-care recruiting and also working at a couple of Philly restaurants.
All of that changed when he crossed paths with Christopher Easton. It was a robbery. Neary was shot once in the neck just 30 yards from his apartment. The bullet pierced his spinal cord, putting him in a wheelchair and changing his life forever.
But Neary did not come to court for revenge. Yes, his life has been irrevocably altered, but his plan now is to be an advocate for those in similar situations.
Every time we report a story like Neary’s, I find myself wondering what I would do if I were in that situation.
I would like to think I would find it in myself to react the way he did. The reality is I doubt I could, that I would instead become bitter and filled with feelings of hopelessness and rage.
I don’t know where Neary and his family find the strength to deal with their predicament. But I wish a lot more of us could do just that.
If you are looking for an example, of a mentor, of someone to point out to kids as a person on whom to model their lives, forget the athletes, movie stars or business tycoons.
Tell them instead the story of Kevin Neary.
He is what I would call a hero.