Shooting survivor Kristene Chapa gets standing ovation at #glaadawards

Kristene Chapa's name, to some, may be most recognizable for being shot, execution style, along with her girlfriend Mollie Olgin, in a southern Texas park on a summer night in 2012. After her on-stage appearance at last night's 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York, though, Kristene came to be recognized for her inspiring resiliency.

Kristene and her mom, Grace, hopped on an airplane this Mother's Day weekend to share her story with the crowd. After exploring Times Square during the day and walking down the event's red carpet in the iconic Waldorf Astoria by night, Kristene took to the stage.

Following a moving introduction from GLAAD's Board of Directors member Tiffany R. Warren, Kristene spoke from the heart about the unconditional love and support from her mother, missing Mollie, support from GLAAD and the LGBT community, and more.

"I just wish Mollie was here. She would have loved to see all of this, all the support from everyone. I know it's a tragedy, but it also brings a lot of people together, and shows all the great people out there that's willing to help and have good hearts," said Kristene. "It's hard to be gay in south Texas, but I believe that God loves everybody, no matter if you're gay or straight."                             

For nearly three years, Kristene has dedicated herself to her ongoing physical and occupational therapy. She continues working tirelessly on her recovery, including regaining function in her left arm. You can donate to her medical fund to aid the financially draining therapies. She is also working with a writer on a book to tell her story. 

Empowering herself by sharing her story with her own words and demonstrating her own unrelenting strength and honesty, Kristene was met with multiple standing ovations from the audience. She garnered attention from celebs, journalists, and advocates, alike.

Kristene's speech was immediately followed by an acoustic performance of "The Climb" from openly gay country star Ty Herndon, accompanied by Antigone Rising's Kristin Ellis-Henderson and singer-songwriter Anita Cochran. Herndon dedicated the performance to Kristene.

For the past year, GLAAD has been working with Kristene and her advocates in Texas and around the country to build media attention and popular support. Kristene and Mollie's story has captured the attention of local and national media, including an MSNBC Originals episode from December 2014, and her alleged attacker is set to go to trial this summer. The ‪#‎justice4krisandmollie movement has continued to grow. You can join in the support by visiting www.glaad.org/justice4krisandmollie, tweeting with the hashtag #justice4krisandmollie, or donating to Kristene's Go Fund Me page.

Anderson Cooper presented the Excellence in Media Award to Kelly Ripa. Lynda Carter presented the Vito Russo Award to journalist Thomas Roberts. Comedian Ross Mathews hosted the event. Out country singer Ty Herndon performed with Antigone Rising's Kristen Henderson and guitarist Anita Cochran. Other guests included: Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Trace Lysette (Transparent); Rupert Friend (Homeland) and fiancé Aimee Mullins; Jonathan Groff (Looking); Laverne Cox, Dascha Polanco, Jackie Cruz (Orange Is the New Black); Janet Mock (So Popular!); Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt); Mark Consuelos (Alpha House); Rachael Harris (Suits) and her fiancé Christian Hebel; Karla Mosley, Scott T. Schofield, Crystal Chappell (The Bold and the Beautiful); out NBA player Jason Collins; out football player Michael Sam and fiancé Vito Cammisano; Craig Melvin (MSNBC Live) and wife Lindsay Czarniak (SportsCenter); Alicia Menendez (Alicia Menendez Tonight); models Andreja Pejić, Carmen Carrera, Rain Dove, Josephine Skriver, Cory Wade; Monifah Carter and her wife Terez Thorpe (R&B Divas: Atlanta); recording artist Maya Vik; Terry Artis, Jonathan Bodrick, Brandon Hood, JJ Langan, Devin Stokes, Kristen Brown (B.O.R.N. to Style); Josh Canfield, Reed Kelly (Survivor); Louise Sorel (Days of Our Lives); Sam Champion (The Weather Channel); out WWE wrestler Darren Young; designer Mitchell Gold; John Gidding, Theodore Leaf, Rob Younkers (Secret Guide to Fabulous); and GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

The Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards were held on March 21 at the Beverly Hilton. For video, photos, and more, visit: http://glaad.org/mediaawards/recap. The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo; and Official Presenting Partners Amazon and Bud Light.