NYPD Detective Steven McDonald inspired many after he publicly forgave the teenager who shot him in Central Park, and even more when he became a messenger of hope for the next three decades. And for that, we honor him as NY1's New Yorker of the Week. John Schiumo tells us more.
Steven McDonald turned a tragedy into a mission. He chose forgiveness over anger, hope over despair.
"I've learned there's more stories of love and forgiveness than there are street corners in our city. There are many stories," McDonald said in an interview with Dean Meminger in Dec. 2016.
McDonald's story started the day he left the hospital. Paralyzed from a teenager's bullet, the police officer dedicated his life to improving the lives of others.
For the next 30 years, he chose to inspire and encourage his fellow New Yorkers.
"Children like yourself are good people. You make our city, the great city that it is today," McDonald said in 1994 to students. "But there are a few that get caught up in the violence and bad things."
Still an active member of the NYPD, McDonald spoke at hundreds of police stationhouses, churches, and schools.
He re-told the story of that fateful day in Central Park in order to teach others to find peace when conflict seems easier.
McDonald channeled the message of other positive icons like Martin Luther King Jr.
"There's some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies," McDonald said in 1994. "It's very powerful, isn't it?"
Several days a week, you would find McDonald reminding young New Yorkers and his fellow brothers in blue of the power to make a change for the better.
A meeting with officers in Washington Heights last month was one of his last.
"In all the world, there's nobody like you," McDonald said at the meeting, reading a poem to police officers. "Since the beginning of time, there's never been another person like you."
Or another person quite like NYPD Detective Steven McDonald.
And so, we celebrate his life and honor this true New York City hero as our New Yorker of the Week.