Published in 2008
Updated and republished in 2014

On December 1, 1997 a 14-year-old freshman boy who had been bullied for years walked into the Heath High School lobby in West Paducah, Kentucky, and randomly fired a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol. Three students were killed. Five were injured.

One of the critically injured girls was 15-year-old sophomore Missy Jenkins, who was left paralyzed from the chest down. But just hours after the shooting, Missy did the unthinkable: she forgave the shooter, accepted her disability, and reclaimed her life.

Missy would go on to graduate from college, become a counselor for troubled students, marry her college sweetheart, give birth to two children, speak publicly about her life to tens of thousands of youth and adults, write an award-winning memoir, and confront the shooter face to face in prison.

She would earn many local and national honors, from “Kentuckian of the Year” to one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Most Fascinating Women,” and would appear on Oprah, Good Morning America, Dateline, and Anderson Cooper 360.

This is one woman’s story of love, forgiveness, courage, and determination that will leave readers of all ages inspired to make the most of each day.

“I Choose to be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph over Tragedy” was published by Langmarc Publishing.


  • Robin Meade
    Through Missy’s narrative, you’ll learn how this young woman moved from being part of a headline…to being an inspiration. Thank you Missy for showing us the healing qualities of forgiveness…and real grace in the face of adversity.
    Robin Meade
    CNN Headline News anchor and author of N.Y. Times bestseller Morning Sunshine!
  • Diane Sawyer
    Missy breaks your heart, puts it back together again, and makes you a believer in forgiveness, faith, and how the strength of one girl can change the world.
    Diane Sawyer
    ABC News