Guest speaker Dombo shares inspirational story

Derby resident Julie Dombo was shot during an armed robbery in Derby AT&T store August 2015. Due to blood loss, Dombo became a quadruple amputee. Dombo visited social studies teacher Jeff Regier’s crime and American justice class Feb. 25 and shared her story.

“At 9:30 in the morning you think you are safe in Derby, Kansas, but there was a robber, and I was the only one in the store,” Dombo said. “The robber came in waving his gun and saying ‘This is what you think it is. Everyone to the back.’”

Dombo feared for her life and decided to tell the robber no.

“I thought, if I go into that back room, he is going to do bad things and then kill me,” Dombo said.

The robber James Michael Phillips, then raised his gun and shot Dombo twice.

“You think when you get shot that you would just die,”  Dombo said.

However, Dombo fought for her life and made it out alive.

“I looked at him and said, ‘You shot me’, and then I fell down,” Dombo said.

Phillips then ran out of the store and was apprehended; Dombo was rushed to the hospital. Dombo was able to pull through and survive, but her quality of life would never be the same because she lost all four of her limbs due to blood loss.

“My incident happened on Aug. 11, 2015 and on Sept. 8 they amputated my arms. On Sept.10 they amputated my legs,” Dombo said. “All of the sudden, I realized I was going to have to live the rest of my life with no hands or feet.”

Due to the loss of her hands and feet, Dombo was diagnosed with depression.

“Depression hit hard, but I was so glad that I was alive,” Dombo said.

Dombo often talks about the term fear and about what it means.

“All of us have fear at times in our life,” Dombo said. “Fear can stand for ‘forget everything and run’ or it can stand for ‘face everything and rise’ and that is what I had to do.”

Dombo had to relearn how to do everything. She had to relearn how to walk, how to eat, how to brush her teeth. The easy things became difficult.

Dombo had friends who helped her make everything as easy as possible. One friend made an invention to help her work her phone.

“I was trying to run my phone but couldn’t,” Dombo said. “I had no way of communicating with the outside world.”

Despite all of the struggles Dombo was going to have to face she maintained a great attitude.

“I really believe that if you fight your way through the fear, you become stronger on the other end. You just do,” Dombo said.

Phillips is serving 31 years in prison for attempted murder and robbery. After his time in Kansas is over he will also serve 23 years in a Tulsa prison for a robbery he committed in Oklahoma. Phillips will not be released until he is 80 years old.

Teachers and students attended Dombo’s speech to hear about her inspirational story. Some students even went to the speech instead of class.

“Mr. Regier had talked about Julie Dombo in class, and I really liked her story, so I knew that I couldn’t miss her speech when she came to the school,” Kourtney Divine (12) said.

Divine was very inspired by Dombo’s story.

“I enjoyed listening to her story, and it made me realize that no matter how hard a situation is, you can always get through it,” Divine said.

Regier invited Dombo to the school.

“The impact she had on the students was my favorite part,” Regier said. “It shows how much a person can persevere if they keep working at it and keep fighting for what is right.”

Dombo inspired students and teachers with her story of overcoming impossible obstacles.