SAN DIEGO - A man who nearly died after being shot as an innocent bystander during a 2012 crime spree spoke to 10News about his road to recovery during a fundraiser in Mission Hills Sunday.
If pictures were worth a thousand words, Will Barton's paintings would tell the story of a man who recovered from the unthinkable.
"It's like I am in control of something finally,” Barton said at the 57 Degrees wine bar. “I'm able to stand up out of bed and walk to the dinner table or breakfast."
On Oct. 29, 2012, a then 20-year-old Barton was walking home in Hillcrest when he was randomly shot at close-range by Philip Hernandez, a former firefighter who died in a gun battle with police after going on a crime spree. Barton was struck in the shoulder, throat and head.
Simple tasks are the inspiration for Barton's artwork. When 10News first met Barton in 2012, he was in a hospital bed, shaking uncontrollably with a bullet still in his brain.
Barton has made incredible progress one step at a time, but says one of the biggest challenges has been reflecting on his life before the shooting.
"Wondering if I'll ever get to be back where I was, or do the things that I would enjoy doing before," Barton said.
Instead of focusing on the tragedy, local artists shared their talents and generous friends opened their wallets for a fundraiser to help Barton pay for medical expenses that have added up to about $200,000 a year.
"It's an ongoing financial burden for the family,” said Will Barton, Sr., his father. “We've done several fundraisers, we've run through all those funds we just have to continue to support Will by doing fundraising.”
The support is what Barton says will help him achieve his goal of becoming a recreational art therapist and one day use his art to help others recovering from traumatic experiences.
“Now that I am an artist and someone who's gone through a horrific event, made light of it and turned it into a positive, I would like to share that."
For more information on Barton's recovery visit StrongWillFoundation.org.