Orosi Woman Survives Shooting by Father, Encourages Forgiveness
An Orosi woman is now out of the hospital and home, after surviving a tragic ordeal.
Valerie Alvarez was shot by her father, after he killed her sister.
He then killed himself.
She spoke publicly about her journey to recovery for the first time Tuesday, exclusively with KMPH Fox 26 News.
Alvarez says she has found forgiveness-and hopes to inspire others to do the same.
When asked to describe herself, she says just two words: "an inspiration."
Visibly, Alvarez defies the odds every day.
She lives with Spina Bifida, a spinal condition with which she was born.
She is 34 years old; she was not expected to live past the age of 20.
But it's the inspirational story that Alvarez holds in her heart, that truly defines her character.
She lost most of her family, yet found the will to live.
Her life changed forever, on May 27th of last year.
"I was asleep. My nephew woke me up, and told me my dad had a gun," she says. "So I stayed in bed and I didn't know what to do.
I heard my sister screaming. I heard three shots go off."
Her father, Anthony Alvarez, had already killed Valerie's sister, Jennifer Kimball.
She realized, she was his next target as he approached her room..
"I saw my dad come in he kept telling me, I'm sorry mija," she says. "That's when the gun went off."
The bullet hit her spine.
In those moments, she says a lot of things ran through her mind.
"I saw like a light. I just kept on talking to myself, 'I'm not gonna die, I'm not gonna die,'" she says.
Just months before, she had lost her mother.
"She was like a rock," she says, adding that her father struggled with the loss.
Alvarez thinks that loss, coupled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Vietnam, made him snap.
After all, it was Memorial Day.
"I think he wanted us all to be together, I think that's why he did what he did. I don't think he did it out of anger," she says.
Alvarez wound up spending the next seven months in the hospital.
She says every day, was a battle.
She couldn't breath on her own.
She lost the ability to move her hands.
But then, she says, everything changed with one key decision.
"I forgave my dad," she says. "That's the best thing I could have done, was forgive my dad to get better, get my strength back.
"I have my hands now, I can push my chair now. Knowing I can be out there in the world, means the world to me!" she says. "To have my life back again!"
Alvarez even held a celebration of life in December.
She didn't just celebrate her survival, but those who helped her in her recovery.
She now lives with her cousin, her family, and Facebook.
"That's like her life!" joke her cousin's kids.
And for those struggling with their own challenges, she offers this advice...
"You can't forever forget, but you can forgive," she says.
Alvarez says she's looking forward to her outpatient therapy, so she can gain greater mobility.
She wants to eventually become an instructional aide at her former elementary school, so she can inspire other students to realize their potential.