Wichita youth motivated by Derby survivor, Julie Dombo

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita woman used her story Saturday as an inspiration for others. Some of you may remember the story of Julie Dombo, who was shot back in August of 2015 inside an AT&T store. Police say a man pulled out a gun and tried to rob the store, Julie was a customer that day and was shot multiple times.

Now, with both her hands and feet amputated, she’s made tremendous strides to get back to what she calls a normal life. Saturday, Julie attended a Rise Up For Youth event, honoring young men for their academic achievements, while sharing her own story of how she turned a tragedy into a motivational movement, to inspire young men and women to make good choices.

“I could have easily gone home and pulled the covers over my head,” explained Julie as she shared how depressed she was after the incident. “But there was more to life for me. That’s not who I was before it happened and I didn’t want the perpetrator to take my joy away. I wanted to get my joy back.”

Julie says she does this just by talking about her story.

“I’ve worked with kids my whole life and it truly is rewarding,” said Julie.

Julie joined other speakers at the Rise Up For Youth academic achievement event. This event honored young men for their academic excellence and highlighted some of their own obstacles that they are working hard at to overcome.

“They can have a better life and they can follow a different path because no matter what is in our lives we have choices and we have to look at those choices and face our fears,” said Julie.

The RUFY group is all about bridging the gap between kids facing challenges and getting them into college.

“This program changed my life because I was following the wrong crowd coming into my freshman year,” said a RUFY student and scholarship recipient, Jerred Manning.

Manning is a high school senior who plans to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall and today he joins others with taking home not only one, but two scholarships.

“These students in our program go through a lot, but if they have adults and community that rallies around them then they will step up to the expectations that we’ve set,” said Lynn Gilkey, one of the founders of Rise Up For Youth.

Both Lynn and David Gilkey are the heads of RUFY and just three weeks ago, they buried their son.

“It’s been rough,” said David Gilkey as he approached the stage. “I wish my son was here with us now.”

But in these tough times, they say getting Julie Dombo to come and share her triumph over tragedy, is exactly what everyone here needs, to continue to fight for our youth.


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