Former NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly told a Cedar Rapids audience Monday, his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is making progress but still has a long way to go to recover from an assassination attempt last year.
"She's doing very well, she's in a good mood, continuing to work hard, these things take a long time," said Kelly.
Giffords spent months in a Houston rehab center where her lead speech therapist was Angie Glynn of Cedar Rapids.
"I probably learned more from her in the 5-6 months I worked with her than she did with me. She is the most determined woman I know. She's so happy. Extremely motivated, happy, jovial. As a woman I learned a lot from her," said Glynn.
Giffords continues her recovery in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
Meantime, her husband makes a few speaking engagements like the one in Cedar Rapids - not just to promote the couple's book but to inform and inspire others.
"The one thing I've learned from this experience is there are organizations raising a lot of resources which can help people with everything, including Gabby's condition, aphasia."
Kelly says there's a long way to go in his wife's recovery but last week's appearance leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention was an emotional moment that he could only hear.
"I was proud of her even though I was backstage I couldn't really see it. Most people were crying, emotional. I was looking at this little tiny screen backstage," said Kelly.
The convention also gave them a chance to talk about their Political Action Committee which hopes to reduce the extreme partisanship on Capitol Hill.
"I think more than anything else, if we can try to elect people that are more in the middle, they tend to be able to work together across the aisle like Gabby did so we'd like to do that," said Kelly.
Kelly says the last year and a half has been challenging not just emotionally but in decision-making, in scheduling, trying to schedule treatment and care for Gabby.
But he says they're both driven, dedicated, positive people - and that can make a big difference in anyone's life.
As for Glynn, the Waterloo Columbus grad has moved back to Iowa with her husband, given birth, and is working with children at the Witwer Children's Therapy Center in Cedar Rapids.
She says she e-mails Giffords from time-to-time and had a conversation on Skype after delivering her baby.
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