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12-13-16 900 Community Members Watch LLUH Documentary "San Bernardino Strong"

By Briana Pastorino

Loma Linda University Health employee Jennifer Hickok paints a star of hope after viewing the film “San Bernardino Strong” with roughly 900 other filmgoers on Dec. 5.
Photo provided by Loma Linda University Health


Emotions were high as the eyes — some dry, others misty — of roughly 900 community members were glued to the screen at Loma Linda University (LLU) church where the film “San Bernardino Strong” was shown on Dec 5, 2016.

A documentary about a community wanting to find hope in a time of tragedy, “San Bernardino Strong” takes filmgoers back to that dreaded day just over a year ago when terror struck San Bernardino, California. Fourteen lives were lost, 22 were injured, and countless lives were forever changed.

One survivor, Julie Swann-Paez, a 51-year-old wife and mother of three, chose to share her story with the Loma Linda Unveristy Health (LLUH) advancement films team. 

After being shot multiple times, Swann-Paez was rushed to Loma Linda University Medical Center where she nearly lost her life. After 29 days in the hospital she returned home. She has since had four surgeries, and physical therapy sessions, and still, she will never be 100 percent.

Through this entire experience, Swann-Paez doesn’t want to be considered a victim or a survivor. “I’m a prevailer,” she said after the film during a Q&A session with Randy Roberts, senior pastor at LLU church.

Swann-Paez agreed to be a part of the documentary in hopes of bringing something good out of such a horrific event.

She welcomed the LLUH advancement films team into her life for six months as she went through the physical and emotional recovery process.

Following the film, guests were invited to sign banners of hope that would be sent to those agencies that first responded to the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2. Additionally, guests had the opportunity to paint "stars of hope," which would be sent to other victims of tragedy — a practice that Swann-Paez participates in regularly as part of the healing process.

“It’s cathartic,” she said as she painted stars of hope with her family in the film. “I’m in a good place now, and it’s because of gratitude. There are 14 people that never came home from work that day, and I am living in honor of them.”

This article originally appeared on the Loma Linda University Health website.

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