Sutherland Springs Survivor Speaks Out in New Greg Abbott Ad

Gov. Abbott is paralyzed from the waist down

Greg Abbott / Getty Images

Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) released an ad featuring Sutherland Springs survivor Julie Workman on Monday.

The ad features Workman describing her experience during the rampage that left 26 dead and 20 injured—including Workman's son. The attacker was engaged by former NRA-certified firearms instructor Stephen Willeford, who shot back, hitting him, and causing him to flee the scene.

"It was unfathomable that little country church and middle of nowhere was being under attack, being fired upon," Workman said in the ad. "I saw debris flying into the church. I could see bullet holes coming from the outside of the church inward. I was curled up and praying and just begging God to make this stop because he was the only one that could."

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She said she watched as her son was shot in the back by the attacker.

"I look over at my son and then the next thing I see is about three, four inches of the barrel of the gun fire into my son's back," she said. "I looked at my son, said are you okay, and he said, ‘Well, I don't feel my legs.'"

Workman then described meeting Gov. Abbott, who is paralyzed from the waist down, when he came to visit her son in the hospital and how it gave her hope that he could one day recover and accomplish anything he wanted.

"When Governor Abbott came into the hospital, it was just elatement, it was just such a relief," she said. "When I saw the governor in the wheelchair and I saw my son in that bed, I knew that my son's future could be anything that he wanted it to be here. The governor is in the wheelchair, and he's our governor. To see his strength and his kindness and to know that that's my son's potential—right there my son's life was not over."

Workman said Abbott treated them kindly during his visit and provided the family with hope in the aftermath of the horrific attack.

"Governor Abbott is a person that sees with his heart. He's very kind-hearted," Workman said. "He gave us hope and that's what we need. He cares and that means everything to us."

The ad ends with a message from Abbott about persevering through struggles.

"Our lives aren't defined by our challenges. Instead, we get to define our lives by how we respond to those challenges," Abbott said.

Abbott has held a commanding lead over his Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez throughout the campaign with the latest polls putting him nearly 20 points ahead. The election will be held on Nov. 6.