AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Monday marks eight years since the deadly Aurora theater shooting. This year on July 20, a small group of family and friends gathered at the 7/20 Memorial around midnight to honor the victims while it was streamed online.
Over the past eight years, Marcus Weaver has come a long way. And he's doing great things with his life.
"It's just been a journey. Lots of peaks and valleys," he said.
Weaver is a husband, father, and philanthropist. He's also a survivor. Weaver was inside the Century 16 Theater in Aurora when a gunman opened fire in 2012.
"I wasn't even expecting to go to the movie that day. I had promised a friend I met a month before, Rebecca Wingo, that we would go to the movie theater that night. So I went and got tickets earlier that day because she had reminded me," Weaver explained. "She came after work and we went inside that theater. At that time, she had wanted to start a nonprofit. She had wanted to work with homeless teens. I really felt her heart and spirit was so in the right place."
Wingo never got that chance. She was killed that night. Weaver was shot in his arm.
"I was on the floor of that theater and she wasn't moving. It was a difficult time. A voice in my head said to leave the theater at the right time and I escaped, but the sounds, what you hear in your head, they didn't leave me."
Since then, he's worked to overcome the trauma and make a difference. He says the power of community was crucial in the process.
"I don't have the sound in my head, or feel like I'm on the theater of the floor anymore because I've had so much support and it's been wonderful."
He credits part of his recovery to giving back to others. He volunteers at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless daily and has also started his own company called Lower the Barrier. It helps create economic opportunities for marginalized people, including those experiencing homelessness and battling addiction.
"The people who need our help need it more than ever before, so we try to lower the barrier and not the bar. Giving back to that community, I feel it's a way for me to give back to those people who helped me along the road when I was down, when I needed a helping hand."
Weaver also gives back on a national level through the Onsite Foundation, which provides tools for mass shooting survivors. He serves on the organization's survivor advisory council.
"It's a six-person team comprised of mass shooting survivors. From Columbine to Parkland, Charleston, Las Vegas, Nashville, and obviously the Aurora situation, which I am honored to be a part of," said Weaver. "They are lifelong family and friends. I no longer have nightmares anymore. It really lets survivors know that help is out there. I think as you're recovering from a mass shooting, there's no one that's been through that experience. It's hard to talk to folks about it."
Going forward, Weaver says he's hopeful.
"I look forward to the road ahead because I don't have to deal with some of the things that have been bothering me for years. I've become an overcomer, not just a survivor."
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