Gabby Giffords to receive DVF 'inspiration' award

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The MAKERS Conference: Gabrielle Giffords

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gabby Giffords, who's been devoting her time to pushing for tougher gun laws as she slowly recovers from her 2011 shooting, will now have $50,000 to donate to her cause, courtesy of designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Von Furstenberg's DVF Foundation is honoring the former Arizona congresswoman this week with its Inspiration Award, and Giffords plans to give the money to the Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation, which she formed with her husband, Mark Kelly, to educate the public about gun violence.

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Gabby Giffords to receive DVF 'inspiration' award
Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, joined by her husband Mark Kelly, left, and Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., center, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, about bipartisan legislation on gun safety. Giffords returned to Capitol Hill to join forces with advocates of expanded criminal background checks on all commercial firearms sales. The measure is considered a longshot because of opposition by the National Rifle Association. Giffords was shot in the head during a 2011 rampage in Arizona that left six people dead and a dozen others wounded. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Retired Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (L) and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, both co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, speak at New York Ideas, a conference that brings together leaders from a variety of industries on May 6, 2014 in New York City. New York Ideas is hosted by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute and New-York Historical Society. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords throws out the first pitch at the Congressional Softball game with the help of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who is pitching the ball, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Wednesday evening June 18, 2014. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) attends a meeting with lawmakers May 1, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Giffords was on the Hill to discuss Congressional efforts to curb gun and domestic violence. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 10: Gabrielle Giffords attends 9th Annual Authors Night at The East Hampton Library on August 10, 2013 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 1: Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband former astronaut Captain Mark Kelly kick off their Americans for Responsible Solutions tour in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Monday, July 1, 2013. The couple met with local business owners to discuss the issue of responsible gun legislation. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ANCHORAGE, AK - JULY 2: Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband astronaut Captain Mark Kelly make a stop at Resolution Park in Anchorage, Alaska, during the Americans for Responsible Solutions tour on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BISMARCK, ND - JULY 3: Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords chats with a supporter during a stop at Kroll's Diner, during the Americans for Responsible Solutions tour in Bismarck, North Dakota, on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. At left is staffer Hayley Zachary. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY - MAY 25: Captain Mark Kelly and Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords attend Bard College's 153rd Commencement at the Seth Goldfine Memorial Rugby Field at Bard College on May 25, 2013 in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. (Photo by Steve Sands/Getty Images)
DORCHESTER, MA - MAY 5: JFK Presidential Library - Former Arizona Congresswoman and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions Gabrielle Giffords was honored by Caroline Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation, with the 2013 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 5, 2013 at the JFK Presidential Library. Giffords was accompanied by her husband, Captain Mark Kelly (US Navy - Ret.), co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. The JFK Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (C-back) and former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L) listen as Mark Barden (R), father of a Newtown school shooting victim, speaks during a press conference at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2013. Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called a 'minority' in the US Senate for blocking legislation that would have expanded background checks on those seeking to buy guns. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 16: From left, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., arrive for an event in the Capitol Visitor Center, to dedicate the Gabe Zimmerman Meeting Room who was killed in the 2011 Tucson shootings that also injured Barber and Giffords, who was Zimmerman's boss. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly attend a dedication ceremony naming a Capitol Visitor Center conference room in honor of slain Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman at the US Capitol in Washington on April 16, 2013. Zimmerman was killed in the January 2011 shooting that left 6 dead and Giffords severely wounded at an event in Tucson, Arizona. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 06: Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords attends a news conference outside Safeway grocery store where they asked Congress to provide stricter gun control in the United States on March 6, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords and Kelly were joined by survivors of the Tucson shooting that took place there two years ago when six people were killed and Giffords herself was shot in the head. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 06: Mark Kelly leans his head on the shoulder of his wife and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords as they attend a news conference asking Congress and the Senate to provide stricter gun control in the United States on March 6, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords and Kelly were joined by survivors of the Tucson shooting as they spoke outside the Safeway grocery store where the shooting happened two years ago where six people were killed. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, pauses while speaking during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill January 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearings to discuss possible solutions to gun violence in the United States. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 30: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, is greeted by Senators as she arrives to testify the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 'What Should America Do About Gun Violence?' on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. From left around Giffords are Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Al Franken, D-Minn. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 06: Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-NV) walks on stage with Democratic National Committee Chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC, which concludes today, nominated U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords accept her award during the Intrepid Museum's 21st annual 'Salute to Freedom' dinner May 24, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages)
ABC NEWS - In a broadcast exclusive, Diane Sawyer chronicles Congresswoman Gabrielle GiffordsÕ journey to recover from her near fatal injury, with her husband Mark Kelly by her side. The broadcast will also document the coupleÕs courtship, marriage, and extraordinary careers in public service. The Diane Sawyer special will air on MONDAY, NOV. 14 (10-11PM, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)GABRIELLE GIFFORDS
FILE - This Oct. 27, 2013, file photo, shows former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), at a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. As the race between Rep. Ron Barber D- Ariz., who also was wounded in the 2011 shooting, and Republican Martha McSally has grown tighter in the final weeks before the Nov. 4, 2014, elections, Giffords is playing more of a role by appearing in ads and raising money for her former aide and increasingly turning the race into a debate about guns. (AP Photo/Scott Morgan, File)

"Our leaders - both in Congress and in state legislatures around the country - must close the loopholes that let dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers buy guns without a background check," Giffords said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. "They must also do more to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, and we need strong laws that can help crack down on illegal gun trafficking."

In the email, Giffords also addressed her difficult recovery from the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and left her partially paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the head, calling it "tough, gritty and endlessly repetitive."

"It's been a long, hard haul, but I'm working hard and getting better every day," she wrote. "I am continuing to do speech therapy, physical therapy, and even some yoga, too. And while speaking and moving my right side remains physically very difficult for me, I am seeing progress. I'm still fighting."

Giffords added that she's "back to doing a lot of the things I love, like playing my French horn and riding my bicycle with Mark and good friends. This fall, I rode 11 miles in Tucson's annual bike race, El Tour de Tucson, and my goal is to do 40 miles in next year's race. "

And she said she was grateful, along with her husband, "to have a second chance at service, and we're using it to fight for laws that make our communities safer from gun violence."

Von Furstenberg created the DVF awards in 2010, along with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. The Inspiration Award goes to a woman who has demonstrated exceptional strength. Giffords will attend the awards ceremony Thursday at the United Nations and make remarks there.

In a telephone interview, the designer said she'd met Giffords last year at an event. "I was so impressed by her. She had the courage to fight, and the power to survive - and then the leadership to inspire," von Furstenberg said. "No matter what, she refused to be a victim, even though she was a victim."

Also to be honored at Thursday's ceremony: Melanne Verveer, director of the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace & Security. Verveer, who will receive the Lifetime Leadership award, served in the Obama administration as an ambassador-at-large for global women's issues.

Giffords, in the email, said that while Congress "still refuses to act" to reduce gun violence, "many leaders in the states are making some commonsense changes to their laws. In the last two years, a number of states have closed the loophole that lets dangerous people buy a gun without a background check, and many other states have acted to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers."

And she said she believes that "someday, Congress will finally catch up to where most Americans stand on laws that reduce gun violence, like background checks on gun sales."

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