Everyday Angels is excited to be part of the Acworth community. We are a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that has featured stories since 2000 in our three sister magazines serving Cherokee County. Through our articles, Everyday Angels informs, inspires and moves our compassionate community into action to support individuals with special needs. With the recent addition of Around Acworth magazine, Everyday Angels will now serve the Acworth community by featuring quarterly stories. We are honored to begin by sharing Janet Paulsen’s story of hope and survival.
On Nov. 5, 2015, the Acworth community was rocked when the news hit the airways— Police: Husband shoots wife then turns gun on himself outside Atlanta (WSB-TV).
“I had returned home after dropping my 13-year-old twins, Hunter and Fisher, off at football practice. As I pulled into my garage, I caught a glimpse of my soon-to-be ex-husband in my sideview mirror chambering his gun and suddenly his threats became reality. I was ambushed, shot six times in my yard, as I attempted to flee to my neighbor’s home. I vividly recall each thought of every second of that night. I willed myself to stay awake and not close my eyes. I blacked out as the ambulance pulled into the hospital. My blood pressure had bottomed out from the loss of blood and my heart had stopped. Trauma surgeons performed their ‘Hail Mary’ to revive me, opening my ribs, shocking, then massaging my heart by hand. The paramedics later told me that they had witnessed that procedure 20 times and I was the only person revived. Only 1 percent of patients come back from that. It is a miracle that I survived,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen spent the following two months in the intensive care unit at WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center and the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. She endured six surgeries and returned home as a paraplegic. Today, she works hard as an outpatient in Shepherd’s Beyond Therapy program.
She is determined to walk again and recently joined the Shepherd Center’s water ski team. “I am trying to qualify for the regionals in October and hope to be chosen for the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team to represent Shepherd in Australia. Fitness has always been important to me, but I never expected it to be my lifeline. I was told that my fitness level was what saved me. I used to hike Kennesaw Mountain several days a week, taught trampoline aerobics at Sky Zone and competed in the Savage Race.”
Paulsen and her family have always been active in the Acworth community. Since 2008, she has volunteered for the Acworth Baseball Association, where she has served as vice president for the past five years. The night before the shooting, she was named “Volunteer of the Year” by Georgia’s Recreation and Parks.
“These past 10 months have been incredibly difficult. My emotions range from thankfulness, anger, sadness, relief and everything in between. The physical challenges and limitations have been most frustrating. I have a special place in my heart for victims of domestic violence. Despite the legal measures I had taken to protect myself and family, anger, magnified by alcohol, overshadowed the consequences that night. No marriage, nor any relationship, should ever include fear or control.
“I faced the ultimate evil that night but I have also been the beneficiary of the ultimate goodness in people. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I have for my amazing parents, family, neighbors, community and friends. God’s miracle was performed through the hands of brave paramedics, doctors, nurses and therapists who never gave up on me and His love was displayed through thousands of friends and strangers. Over the years the friends I have made through baseball have become like sisters to me. They rallied together caring for my boys, providing meals, organizing fundraisers and prayer vigils. JP Strong T-shirts and arm bands were sold by Acworth Baseball in support of our family. The Acworth Parks and Recreation and Acworth Police Department organized donations and Christmas gifts for us. We could not have done it otherwise,” Paulsen said.
“I want to live a simple, peaceful, quality life and enjoy the gift of each day,” Paulsen added. “My story is one of hope. If I can do this, you can do anything. We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit. I believe that God spared my life not only for my precious sons but also for something much more. I am forever grateful and honored to be the 1 percent.”
Everyday Angels would like to thank Paulsen for bravely sharing her story, which reminds us that good is greater than evil and how fortunate we are to live in a compassionate community. If you would like to donate to Paulsen and her boys, Everyday Angels will accept tax-deductible donations. All donations go directly to her medical expenses and therapies.
She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25