Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a gun violence survivor who has dedicated her life to preventing more firearm injuries and deaths, will serve as the grand marshal for the 2023 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.
“Our selection for the 2023 grand marshal is a perfect example of how to valiantly turn the corner,” Amy Wainscott, the president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, said at a press conference Thursday morning.
“Turning the corner” is the theme for the 134th Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game. The parade and game will be held Jan. 2.
“Our lives can change so quickly — mine did when I was shot, but I never gave up hope,” Giffords said Thursday in Pasadena, after accepting a bouquet of red roses. “It can be so difficult; losses hurt, setbacks are hard, but I tell myself, ‘Move ahead.’ … I’m finding joy in small things.”
Wainscott said Giffords has embodied courage and resiliency since she was shot in 2011, finding a way to turn her tragedy into activism, now leading a nationwide nonprofit focused on fighting gun violence in America. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year.
“When one has no choice but to be both vulnerable and strong in public, with the whole nation watching, that calls for a special brand of bravery,” Wainscott said. She added that Giffords’ “boundless optimism has never faltered.”
Wainscott said she hopes Giffords’ serving as the grand marshal can inspire others.
“Every single day there are opportunities to overcome an obstacle, to reach a longtime goal, to put a past difference behind us,” Wainscott said. “When we work together, limitless opportunities arise to help our neighbors, our communities, our country, even our world.”
“We are living in challenging times, but we are up for the challenge,” Giffords said. “When people care for each other, and work together, progress is possible.”