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Victims of Gun Violence to Attend State of the Union

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Each year, guests with compelling stories are invited to attend the president’s State of the Union address. This year is no different.

On hand for this Tuesday's speech will be around two dozen people vicitimized by gun violence, either personally or through the loss of a loved one. Former Ariz. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound to her head two years ago, will attend. So will members of the Sandy Hook Elementary community. Here are some of the tragic stories behind the faces you’ll see tonight: 

Josh Stepakoff 
Stepakoff was just 6 and attending summer camp when he was shot at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in 1999. He was one of three children injured by gunman Buford Furrow, who targeted Jews and minorities in his attack. Now 19 years old, Stepakoff is pushing for tougher gun control laws. 

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendelton and Nathanial A. Pendleton Jr.
The parents of Hadiya Pendleton will there on behalf of their daughter, an innocent bystander who was caught in the crossfire of gang violence on Chicago’s South Side. Hadiya, an honor student, was killed just one week after participating in President Obama’s inauguration. Two men have been charged in the 15-year-old’s murder.

Natalie Hammond
Hammond, a lead teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, is one of a few survivors of Adam Lanza’s assault on the school. She was shot several times but managed to crawl behind a door to safety. Hammond is a mom to a tween daughter.

Carlos Soto Jr.
His sister, Victoria Soto, was hailed as a hero after she used her body to shield and protect the students in her Sandy Hook first grade class. Carlos, a high school student, has set up Victoria Soto Scholarship Memorial Fund with his family to help aspiring teachers.

Kaitlin Roig
A first-grade teacher for six years at Sandy Hook Elementary, Roig protected her students by hiding them in the classroom bathroom and then barricading the door. 

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