De Voy Boyd and Jennifer Frodl.
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:43AM
DeVoy Boyd never believed he’d get married.
Not after 1994.
Walking home from Hyde Park High School’s homecoming, someone started shooting into a crowd at 66th and Woodlawn where Black Disciples were battling Black Souls.
DeVoy was hit. In the spine. He was 17. That was the day he stopped walking anywhere.
We met just days later as he lay in a bed at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. He was a kid in shock, stunned by what he suddenly could not do.
“I learned,” he would tell me years later. “Unfortunately it wasn’t until after I got shot that I learned. Until I got shot, I’d never been out of my neighborhood, didn’t know about any of the good things about our city.”
As I write this, the number of murders in Chicago this year over last is down by 19 percent, but up slightly from 2011. We talk a lot about those who die from gunshots, but less about those who are struck and live with the consequences.
Dr. Michelle Gittler has known DeVoy since the day he arrived at Schwab. Day after day, year after year, she treats young men with similar wounds.
“The real moral about the people who sustain these horrific injuries is that if we’ve done our job well, not only do we save their lives but they go on living,” she said.
How well depends on the determination of the person.
By 2006, 12 years after we first met, DeVoy was working at the same hospital where he had been a patient. By then he was the executive director of “In My Shoes,” a rehabilitation program for other young gunshot victims. And he was going to college, working toward a career as an X-ray technician.
And he’d met someone.
DeVoy had spotted a lovely brunette named Jennifer Frodl at Bennigan’s on Michigan Avenue. She was with one group. He was with another. They became friends. And slowly fell in love.
When Shakespeare wrote “love is blind,” he could have been talking about Jennifer.
“She never looked at my chair, I can honestly say that,” DeVoy told me. “She saw me, not my chair.”
That’s not to say their road will be smooth.
Devoy, at the moment, cannot work. Kidney failure, a complication from being shot, means he spends three days a week in dialysis.
Jennifer, a day care teacher, takes him back and forth.
“We have our challenges,” she said, “but we work through them.”
A suburban girl from Wisconsin, she didn’t grow up in a shooting gallery as DeVoy did.
His sense of the violence in Chicago is this: “My perspective, it’s getting worse [because] they’re killing babies, kids even before they have a chance to grow up, even to walk.”
Walking is a very big deal.
But loving is even bigger.
This weekend, DeVoy and Jennifer will marry.
And wedding bells will ring out. Not shots fired.