CARY, N.C. -- "I mean I nearly died and saw things no 17-year-old should ever see," said Kacey Johnson.
Johnson moved to Cary about six months ago after growing up in Colorado and living there her whole life. She was a junior at Columbine High School in 1999, when her whole life changed.
"It was the one time that year I stayed for lunch and when the shooting began I hid under a table and started praying and just moments later the shooter was right behind me and shot me close range -- my shoulder, hand and across my neck," Johnson said. "I pretended to be dead, hoping he’d move on, and he did."
After surviving, she says the community support was overwhelming. She was inspired to become a nurse.
"I wanted to be able to have that same impact on somebody else’s life," she said, of the impact nurses had on her life after the shooting. And now she wants to impact lives in a different way. When a gunman opened fire in a Parkland Florida High School Wednesday, she had to reach out.
"I so badly want to be there with the people experiencing it because there’s only a small few of us who really know," Johnson said.
She's currently working on a book about her life, and how she's moved past the Columbine tragedy, in hopes people can connect with her perspective. She says she's doing her best to focus on the positive and not be motivated by fear.
"Sending my kids to school is the single hardest thing in my life," Johnson said. "For many years I debated homeschooling my children, but I knew it would be wrong because the reason for it was fear and that’s not the right way to raise my kids: out of fear."