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Shooting victim not giving up, hopes to dance again

Rain Stippec, 26, was shot 8 times in the back. Now, she's determined to dance again and help heal the community through art. 

Rain Stippec

For the first time, a young dance instructor shared her story of recovery after she was gunned down in Soulard.

The shooting sent Rain Stippec, 26, and a captain with the St. Louis Fire Department to the hospital in critical condition.

The shooting happened in February near 7th and Sidney. Both victims are on the road to recovery.

In March, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office announced charges against two brothers, 23-year old James Hartman and 33-year old Ryan Hartman. Court documents said the brothers approached the victims in a car before opening fire. Both face charges of assault and armed criminal action.

Court records show they posted bond several weeks ago, but Stippec is not focused on the suspects. She’s focused on healing the community from the violence.

Stippec spent 94 days in the hospital. The professional dancer lost feeling in her left leg and underwent 14 major surgeries that included the removal of her spleen, a kidney and some of her intestines. Her pancreas still leaks.

She was able to eat without a tube starting last month. She credits her family and friends — who have been with her every step of the way — for helping her survive the shooting.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am,” she said.

Her father Greg Stippec said it’s a miracle his daughter is still alive considering she was shot eight times in the back. He recalls what it was like, as a parent, seeing his daughter in the hospital.

“They say it’s your worst nightmare, but you can’t have a nightmare that bad," he said.

He said doctors had to replace Rain’s blood five times in the six hours after the shooting. He said at one point, her heart gave out.

“She basically ran out of blood, her heart stopped, they resuscitated her,” he said.

He is incredibly grateful to the medical staff at Saint Louis University Hospital for their work and saving his daughter’s life. He also says her strong spirit kept his daughter going.

Rain is recovering well. She goes to physical therapy twice a week to build strength. The dance teacher wants to dance again and spread a message of hope.

She started dancing when she was 2 years old and she doesn’t plan on giving up now. Stippec, her family, and friends are hosting a Community Arts Festival. Organizers said the festival will provide St. Louis with an opportunity to counteract the violent crimes by educating and healing the community through art.

AnnoyArts at Satori is the producer and sponsor of the event. It will take place on Sept. 2, 3 and 9. The festival includes yoga, free-paint art therapy, a Trauma Awareness Seminar with Alive and Well STL, music therapy and young artist dance workshops. Money raised will help offset Rain’s medical costs.

Her family said the bills are costing her family tens of thousands of dollars and she still has several surgeries coming up. Her family said she remains positive, strong and determined. She wants to help the community heal through art.

“We're trying to spread the word and really get people in St. Louis involved to understand that art can heal, art can inspire," she said. "Art is what this city and community need to end the violence.”

For more information on the Community Art Festival click here.

An Inaugural “Play Fore Rain” Golf Tournament and Brunch will also be held to help Rain and her family. For more information, click here.

A GoFundMe page was also set up to help the family.

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