Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have been chosen as the Grand Marshals for the 88th Tucson Rodeo Parade. They are honored for their community service to Southern Arizona and the nation.
“Gabby,” as she’s affectionately known, is a native Tucsonan, graduating from University High School before graduating from Scripps College in California and earning a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University. She worked as an associate for regional economic development at Price Waterhouse in New York before becoming president and CEO of the family business, El Campo Tire Warehouses, a local auto service business.
Her political career began as with an election to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2000. In 2002 she became the youngest woman to be elected to the Arizona State Senate. In 2003 she was named the Arizona Family Literacy’s Outstanding Legislator, and in 2004 was named Legislator of the Year by the Mental Health Association of Arizona.
She was re-elected Senator in 2004, but resigned that position in 2005 to begin her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2006 she became the third woman in Arizona history to be elected to the U.S. congress representing U.S. District 8, and was re-elected in 2008 and 2010. She was an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that included a secure border, increasing Border Patrol Agents, and a guest worker program. She was also a staunch supporter of the military and increasing the minimum wage. In February 2010, Congresswoman Giffords honored the Tucson Rodeo Parade with an official commendation on the Congressional Record for its 85 years of service to the Tucson and Arizona community.
In January 2011 she was wounded in an assassination attempt, and resigned from Congress in January 2012 to focus on her recovery.
Mark Kelly is a retired U.S. astronaut and former Navy Captain and naval aviator who flew combat missions in the Gulf War. Kelly was selected to become a NASA Space Shuttle pilot in 1996 and piloted the shuttle in 2001 and 2006, and commanded shuttle missions in 2008 and 2001, the latter being his final mission and the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. During this mission, he received a call and papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI; the first such call from a pope to astronauts during a mission.
In 2007 he and Gabby were married. After the Tucson shooting, they were thrust into the media spotlight and he has become a spokesman on what constitutes acceptable civil discourse. They have penned a memoir about their individual and shared experiences after the shooting titled Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. They have recently launched an initiative called Americans for Responsible Solutions, calling for responsible changes in laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee is proud to honor Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelley as Grand Marshals for their history of national and local community service, and their legacy of hope, strength, and love.