Apr 26, 2023

Wearing orange means more than just support for the O's

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People are wearing orange Friday and through the weekend to honor survivors and victims of gun violence. The goal is to raise awareness.

Damon Walker was shot when he was 18. Now 45, he said it's still a struggle.

"It plays tricks on you. You feel like you're vulnerable, like a baby in a grown person's body," Walker said.

Despite a spinal injury that has caused him to be in a wheelchair, Walker remains upbeat. He has a job working with children at Baltimore Youth Arts, volunteers and is an athlete.

Still, his injuries can cause him physical and mental pain.

"I was shot 27 years ago. It still hurts right now at this moment. It affects everything I do, (even) sleeping at night. Not so much, the PTSD I used to have. At one time, I couldn't even drive a car without feeling pain, feeling like I just got shot," he said.

Walker still goes to the Kennedy Krieger Spine Center for rehab and treatment. He also works with young people who have survived being shot.

"You can see the fear, not knowing what to expect. I just explain to them, 'You are going to go through some hard years,'" he said.

Dr. Michelle Melicosta is the medical director of the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Kennedy Krieger. She has worked with Walker, and she is encouraging her staff to wear orange for the weekend to bring awareness.

"By the end of 2020, gunshot injuries were the number one cause of death in kids between 1-19, overtaking motor vehicle injuries, which used to be the leading cause of death. Gun violence has become the number one threat to the lives of our children," Melicosta said.

She encourages parents to do what they can to protect their children by making sure they lock up their firearms to prevent accidental injuries.