Joe Biden honors student who was shot twice while stopping a rape
Not all heroes wear capes. Kyle Richard and his friends wear SUNY Cortland football uniforms.
In the summer of 2017, the current college junior went to an off-campus party in Long Island, New york. He and his friend Sulaiman Aina helped stop a man from allegedly sexually assaulting a girl in the bathroom. Richard was shot twice by the alleged assailant during the struggle.
On Wednesday, his actions were recognized by the former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden at the Biden Courage Awards ceremony in New York. During the ceremony, hosted by It’s On Us and the Biden Foundation, Richard was presented with the Biden Courage Award for Bystander Intervention.
“I didn’t think I was going to receive an award, because I was just doing something that anybody should do,” Richard told CNN.
The award was presented by actor Adam DeVine, who recounted Richard’s story about that night and his recovery process.
“Since this incident, Kyle has become an advocate working at SUNY Cortland and in the local community to raise awareness on sexual assault and the importance of being a bystander,” DeVine said during the ceremony.
The award was sponsored by the National Football League, so Richard was also presented with a letter from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Richard’s unexpected road to heroism began at a party in his home town of Long Island with his high school friends. The New York summer weather was agreeable, so as the night wore on the party began to fill with people he didn’t recognize. There came a point where he saw his best friend and high school teammate trying to open a door because he heard a girl scream behind it.
After a fight against the door, it finally opened. The two men saw a frightened woman and a man who appeared to be trying to assault her. Richard helped scare the perpetrator away, but it wasn’t over. Richard, a linebacker and captain of his university’s football team, chased the man to the front yard where an altercation began. Aina was alongside him.
The man was carrying a gun. And even though the man was slowly backing away, Richard and police say the man pulled his gun and fired three rounds.
“I knew right then and there,” Richard said. “Once he reached for his waist I kind of figured.”
Two of those three bullets struck Richard, one in each leg. Both bullets missed major arteries and bones by millimeters, according to a SUNY Cortland press release.
“[Aina] kept saying ‘you good?'” Richard said. The football player only responded, “I’m hit, I’m hit.”
But once Richard was taken inside, he heard more gunshots.
His friend, Michael Abiola was brought into the house, his white t-shirt now red. He had just arrived at the party to eat some food he’d just picked up at a nearby diner. But now there was a bullet in his shoulder.
“He’s a victim of senseless actions,” Richard said. Abiola is still recovering from his wounds. Richard went through an intense program of rehabilitation and was able to return to the football field the following fall.
“I was just trying to get back as soon as possible,” Richard said. “I dedicated my season to [Abiola].”
Now Richard is an advocate for victims of sexual assault, and the Biden Courage Award isn’t the first accolade he’s received for his actions. In March, he was presented with a Next Generation Award from Kristin’s Fund. He was also the guest speaker at Utica College’s Take Back the Night March in April.
He’s been actively involved with sexual assault awareness events around campus. And is now a strong advocate for stronger gun control laws. He knows they’re all important topics to talk about.
“(Richard) exemplifies the type of active and selfless engagement with the world that we encourage in all our students,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said in a statement. “Needless to say, we are incredibly proud that he is part of the SUNY Cortland community.”
When Richard shared his story on social media, he received an outpouring of support.
“I will dedicate myself to helping ‘males’ turn into ‘men’ by continuing to lead by example,” Richard wrote on Instagram after winning the Next Generation Award. “Let our generation be the change.”