Ralph Yarl, the Kansas City teenager who was shot in the head last month after mistakenly ringing the wrong doorbell, made his first major public appearance since the shooting on Monday.
Yarl, now 17, walked with family, friends and other brain injury survivors at Going the Distance for Brain Injury, an annual Memorial Day race held at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri. As many as 1,000 people participated in this year’s event.
Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, spoke ahead of the race where she urged the community to stop gun violence: “It takes a community. It takes a family. It takes a support group, all of that.”
She added: “Let’s raise more awareness to stop the things that cause brain injuries and should not be causing them, especially gun violence.”
In April, Yarl was shot after attempting to pick up his younger brothers at the wrong home, which was approximately a block away from where they were located. Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old homeowner, is accused of shooting Yarl.
“It’s important for Ralph to see that he is not alone,” Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said.
Many of the race attendees were seen wearing neon green T-shirts and were registered to be part of “Team Ralph,” said Robin Abramowitz, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City.
Spoonmore revealed Yarl continues to struggle with balance and suffers debilitating migraines. He also has mood changes and is dealing with the trauma of the shooting, she said.
Lester was arrested in connection with the shooting but was released just two hours later.
The shooting prompted outrage across the country and sparked protests in the Kansas City area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.