A SUNY Cortland junior who was shot twice after stopping an attempted rape in Uniondale last summer was commended for his courage by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kyle Richard was honored at the national Biden Courage Awards on Wednesday in Manhattan, where the 20-year-old Lakeview resident was hailed as a hero, the school said in a news release.
“Not everyone can be a hero like Kyle,” Biden said at the event while urging other young men not to be silent bystanders. “But you have an obligation to holler . . . to step up.”
The annual award ceremony, hosted by It’s On Us and the Biden Foundation, celebrates students who are working to help prevent sexual assault. Richard was presented with the Biden Courage Award for Bystander Intervention and received a thank-you note from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Richard and a friend interrupted a sexual assault in progress during a party, the release said. Richard, a linebacker and a captain for SUNY Cortland’s football team, pursued the assailant, who drew a gun and shot Richard twice, hitting him in each leg.
The bullets “missed major arteries and bones by millimeters,” the release added, but through intensive physical therapy and training he recovered in time for football season.
According to Nassau County district attorney’s office spokeswoman Miriam Sholder, the incident happened on July 23 and the case is pending.
Sholder said Ahkhazyah Wright was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, first-degree attempted sexual abuse, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and criminal obstruction of breathing. No further information on the case was immediately available, including the suspect’s age and address.
“Kyle is a remarkable young man whose courage and compassion is an inspiration to us all,” said Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “He exemplifies the type of active and selfless engagement with the world that we encourage in all our students. Needless to say, we are incredibly proud that he is part of the SUNY Cortland community.”
Since Richard interrupted the attack, he has become an outspoken advocate for the victims of sexual assault, the release said.
Biden founded It’s On Us in 2014 to help shift attitudes about sexual assault and engage young people to stand up on their college campuses and in their communities. The first Courage Awards were hosted at the White House in 2016.
Richard said that others don’t have to take a bullet to be active bystanders, according to the release.
“I realize that people do want to hear my voice,” Richard said. “It is a tough topic but we need somebody to talk about it, especially from a male perspective.”
The release said that when Richard shared his story on social media, it went viral.
“I knew there would be attention and some sort of publicity,” Richard said. “But it’s not really about that.”