Sally and Jim Grady, left, join daughter Samantha and Pastor Shion O’Connor during the discussion of the impacts on their family of the Stoneman Douglas tragic school shooting.

Samantha Grady, a survivor of February’s tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, visited Cayman last week and shared her experiences with local teenagers.

Ms. Grady was a keynote speaker at the Savannah Adventist Church on Friday, July 6, and she spoke again at the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac the next day. The 17-year-old told of her experience being wounded in a school shooting that left 14 students and three faculty members fatally injured.

Ms. Grady also sang at the Savannah Church on July 8.

She was invited to Cayman along with her parents Sally and Jim by Pastor Shion O’Connor, the president of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Pastor O’Connor said he has known the Grady family for 10 years.

“When I heard of the tragedy and that Samantha was one of the victims, I visited her at her home in Coral Springs,” Pastor O’Connor said in a press release. “Having learned of her incredible survival story, I felt compelled to have it shared with the youth of these Islands, many of whom are currently in colleges and universities abroad or leaving shortly to be enrolled.”

Ms. Grady told the assembled audience that she was injured by a bullet that grazed her back and by another projectile that ricocheted and hit her in the chest. Her chest wound was stapled at the hospital, but fragments of the bullet that struck her still remain lodged inside her chest.

Ms. Grady said that her best friend – who had been crouching close to her – was fatally shot in the attack, and she said she could recall the moments of terror that gripped her and her classmates.

“I remembered praying to God, ‘You’ve got this; you know what you are doing,’” she said. “I had this reassurance; I had this ‘fact’ in my brain that I was not going to die, and that helped to calm my mind.”

Ms. Grady and her mother recounted for the audience how they had gathered for worship the morning before the attack. They looked for moments of solace in the tragedy, and Ms. Grady said she is “definitely more in tune with God,” in the wake of the school shooting.

Ms. Grady suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is startled by loud noises in the aftermath of the attack.

Her father spoke about what it was like to go to the school on the day of the shooting to collect his daughter.

“It was the worst day of my life,” he said. “It changes your life – you may once have taken everything for granted … [but] now life is so precious; I just want to hold on to her.”


  1. Why she was selected to speak with the teenagers , was because she could’ve had a very good message to of such tragedy. But according to the article I don’t know if that good message was delivered or not , I know that she prayed to God while the shooting . So maybe the prayer was the biggest point to the sponsors. I agree that something like that tragedy should be shared with the kids in all schools . But done in a very professional and sympathetic way , to not traumatize the kids , but to educate them .

      • Ms. Bell , If Ms. Grady had told the children about things like , if you hear/see one of the kids talking/texting about doing something violent , to report that to the appropriate Authority, and that person/kid was stopped from carrying out his/her threats. Would that be educational for the kids and you ? Then until something like that tragedy happens , we don’t know what to do to prevent it from happening . Then like how I am seeing that everyone including youself is scared to death about saying anything about a person who has a gun . So I am sure that some education in the matter won’t hurt .

  2. I would like to know , if the CHILDREN OF CAYMAN ISLANDS know that they need to report THREATS to the appropriate Authorities when they know that someone is threatening to do something violent to them .

  3. Ms. Bell and Mr. Ebanks, to answer why a 17-year old American high school shooting survivor would speak in Cayman, I can share with you my thoughts as I attended this wonderful event which started Youth Week.

    I must say that I found the evening completely riveting, as many times the audience erupted in thunderous applause, not only at the recounting of how Ms. Grady’s unwavering faith automatically kicked in upon realising while in class that something was terribly wrong, but also many times on a lighter note from her father and mother when they were invited on stage to speak afterwards.

    The whole spotlight was on youth.

    We adults were there, yes, but a strong message of encouragement and support was directed at the youth about staying prayed up so that when a situation occurs, you can remain calm.

    Sort of like a fire drill, where you go through practice in case you ever need it for when the real thing happens.

    Daily devotions first thing in the morning for our children are sort of like “prayer drills” which are teaching moments to prepare the youth for any crisis they encounter.

    Ms. Grady recounted her daily morning devotions with her mother, who dropped her to school and her father who picked her up from school every day. She spoke about how she formed a Christian club at her high school and how seriously she takes her personal relationship with God.

    She also told of inviting her best friend to Church who began coming, who was right next to her that day but did not survive. Very impactful for Cayman’s children to hear, I can assure you. What are you doing with your time?

    She also explained that when people heard the shots being fired and even when the gunman came to her class and shots were fired, even though she had been hit twice, she immediately began trying to help everyone else, making the point that she always wanted to go into the medical field, but for sure now she feels even more committed because of how naturally she ran to other people’s aid.

    Everything she had been learning about suddenly just instinctively kicked in. That was amazing to hear. The a-ha moments.

    Mrs. Grady explained that her daughter was an only child, and reckoned herself like Hannah in the Bible promising her daughter back to God, which she did by raising her and devoting her daughter back to God. Raised in a conservative Christian home to mature parents, Mrs. Grady described that she always reinforced to her daughter that it was okay that she acted differently than the other children, and dressed differently, and spoke differently and didn’t do a lot of the different things that the other children did.

    Mr. Grady also spoke of how a close knit family they were, and parents who were always involved in their daughter’s life at home, in school and in the community. The point was made how precious time is and Mr. Grady had the audience erupting in laughter with his joking comments and interactions with his wife and daughter.

    So our Cayman parents were reminded that our youth are exposed to a lot of distractions, and it is up to the parents to equip and prepare them instead of them being filled up with outside influences of no substance.

    And the evening was topped off when BRIANNA BODDEN was presented to the Church as making HISTORY IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS with her recent graduation at the Clifton Hunter High School by achieving 11 CSX PASSES and getting an “A” in the British General Certificate of Secondary Education!

    So, Ms. Bell and Mr. Ebanks, Youth Week started in full gear and it was an overall wonderful evening to hear the excellence that our Cayman youth can achieve when their moral and spiritual compass is continually being reinforced by their parents and the wider community.

  4. Ms. Ebanks , while I am understanding more about what was said and started .
    I have to agree that it could have been an good evening . But do you believe that prayer is better than prevention ? The message I wanted to let everyone know was , see something say something , and prevention is always better than prayers .

    • Mr. Ebanks, I ABSOLUTELY agree with you that when you see something, say something.

      Ironically, I was having that same discussion with my daughter yesterday. And to call BS when you see it. Always. Doesn’t matter who it is. Keep it 100 and respectable, but question what you don’t know. Keep your actions pure. Keep your motives right. Do the right thing. Even if something happens afterwards, at least you know you did the right thing for the right reason, even if you are in the minority.

      And yes, prayer is something we cannot live without and is better than prevention, because in this instant situation, Ms. Grady COULD NOT have prevented the gunman from coming into the school and she specifically made the point that prayer and her faith in God automatically took over and that’s what kept her calm as fear did not grip her when the other children were screaming and hyperventilating and caused themselves to be seen in their panic.

      You have to stay charged up already IN PRAYER and prepared so that you can handle yourself in the middle of a crisis, which keeps you grounded.

      Where’s your point of reference if you haven’t had discussions already with your children about their faith? How will they react when you are not with them? What is their point of reference? Prayer is, and the preparation we give them.

      How are we spending our time with our children during the few hours we have with them in the mornings and the hours we have with them after school in the evenings? How much of this time do the children have of our full attention to give teachable moments, or are they glued to social media, their phone or games?

      So, the preparation that Ms. Grady’s parents instilled in her THROUGH DAILY MORNING PRAYER AND DEVOTION actually prevented her from fear and panic, and allowed her to have a clear head IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE PANDEMONIUM to assist her classmates who were overcome with fear and make it outside and hide behind the cars while law enforcement got involved.

      We can deal with teaching hand-to-hand combat prevention techniques at a later time, but my personal belief is that prayer needs to remain first and foremost in my household.

      Mr. Ebanks, prayer is practice. Prayer is preparation. Prayer is the prevention to be able to keep a clear mind during a crisis.

      Just like swimming. If you panic during a situation, things can turn out tragic.

      Parents are given an amazing opportunity to develop God’s true potential in their children, so I am glad that Cayman’s youth were able to hear such an inspirational story for Youth Week on this platform now that children are out of school for the summer.

  5. Ms. Ebanks, completely agree with your comment and actions of starting the Youth fellowship , it is something that is necessary and important for the kids and parents of today . I do agree that when the whole family has the love of God in their heart , we have a tendency to be less violent and more loving . Which is a good thing and we all should be like that , but unfortunately it is impossible to have in the world.

    How I see the world today , we have many different personalities that make up the world, so we have to be prepared to deal with anyone and any situation that comes forth in life . Every situation is different, so it has to be handled differently . That’s why it’s important for us to have common sense and be street smart , and not all times you will have time to pray .

    One instance of the above , one day I was out in the ocean free diving and spearfishing , I dove down to about 60 ft , and I didn’t know anything until my ears sounded like my head had exploded and felt like I was spinning aroud in circles , remember I only had one breath of air in my body . So did I have time to pray ? No , but used my common sense and quickly figured out where I had to go to survive , and I made it safe to the surface .

Comments are closed.