The gathering Thursday was not only to celebrate her birthday, but it also was a fundraiser, McConnell’s father, Kevin Ross, told the crowd. Ross, a longtime Atlanta political operative, said retrofitting the family home, where McConnell will live once she’s released from the Shepherd Center next month, is just one of the expenses not picked up by insurance.
As people poured into CosmoLava, they dropped off gifts bags, cards and monetary donations at the door.
“My life changed in an instant,” McConnell told the crowd Thursday. “God is telling me there is something I have to make out of this. Something amazing and beautiful and God-designed will come out of this.”
McConnell and Levon Hailey, 39, were shot multiple times the morning of April 25 while parked in McConnell's car on Fairway Circle in southwest Atlanta. Atlanta police said they were ambushed by her husband, Tranard McConnell, 32, who, hours later, turned the gun on himself at a College Park cemetery where his grandparents are buried.
Days after the shooting, Ross said his daughter was paralyzed from the waist down and faced "an extended period of rehabilitation for her spinal injury."
McConnell told Channel 2 she has been building her arm strength and that she has little feeling below her chest. Despite her paralysis, she intends to return to work one day.
“I never stop trying to move these legs,” she told those who gathered to celebrate her. “God has given me a second chance.”