In 1999, Patrick Ireland was a 17-year-old junior at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Ireland was in the school library when a shooting rampage began.
With gunshot wounds that left him partially paralyzed, it was hours before he was rescued. With the world watching, he dropped into the arms of a waiting SWAT team, and became known as The Boy In The Window.
After a difficult and painful recovery, Patrick Ireland returned to Columbine to graduate as valedictorian, and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Colorado State University. He now lives with his wife and two daughters outside of Denver.
Ireland will appear in a Winston-Salem benefit for the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County. WFDD's Neal Charnoff spoke to him ahead of the event about his recovery.
Ireland says it's important for him to be able to share his experiences with mental and physical rehabilitation.
"If there's one person we can touch or impact within being able to share my own personal story....then that's kind of therapeutic in my own way, being able to impact and serve our community from that perspective," says Ireland.
Ireland says he has learned forgiveness, but is at a loss when it comes to preventing future tragedies.
"I think that as a nation we've learned a lot from Columbine from the other shootings that have happened since. We can train and become more educated about it, but I don't know what the answer is in terms of being in a position to avoid them in the first place".