Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, 41, had a personally tragic, publicly inspiring year. At a "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire, shooting the three-term Representative through the head and killing six others. Local Arizonans became folk heroes as they dove to protect Giffords, and one another, amid the 30 rounds Loughner shot in mere seconds. Giffords later began a harrowing road to regaining basic functions, a recovery that is far from over. Still, by August, with her hair just growing in, a smiling Giffords walked onto the House floor for the debt-ceiling vote; the surprise visit brought thunderous applause and briefly removed the bitterness built up over months of partisan squabbling. Giffords will have to decide by May 2012 if she wants to run for another term, though she says she's in no hurry. When People asked her what was on her bucket list, she replied with two words: "Get better."