Eighteen-year-old Kai Leigh Harriott crossing the stage at Thursday's Newton Country Day School graduation evoked many emotions.
"I’m just happy for her," said Tonya David, Kai’s mother. "Kai worked hard for it. She did it. She did it."
Fifteen years ago, at just 3-years-old, Kai was sitting on her front porch in Dorchester when she was struck by a stray bullet. She was paralyzed from the chest down.
"We have to take one day at a time," said David. "We can’t focus on the past. We can’t worry about tomorrow. We got here today."
And as Kai got her diploma, she also received something else. A surprise visit from the man who carried her to safety that night 15 years ago. Boston EMT Joseph O’Hare and Kai were reunited for the first time.
"It’s emotional," said O’Hare. "She’s an incredible young woman."
O’Hare hadn’t seen Kai since the day of the shooting, but knew Thursday was the day he had to see her again.
"I just introduced myself and told her how wonderful she’s been and what a great job she’s done," said O’Hare.
"I’m grateful to him and I’m thankful to God that I have this moment in time to meet him," said David.
Kai will attend the University of Arizona in the fall.