OKC Bombing Survivor Celebrates 20 Years With Nonprofit
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma City bombing survivor celebrates 20 years of helping the community. Susan Walton started Suited For Success during her recovery to dress women trying to get a job, and now, she’s ready to expand.
On April 19, 1995, Walton entered the credit union inside the Murrah building just before the bombing. The blast nearly killed her.
“I'm kind of a walking miracle,” said Walton.
Following the bombing, she had a long road of recovery ahead.
“I had a basal skull fracture,” she said, "nerve damage behind both eyes, a broken nose. I lost six teeth. My jaw was fractured in six places, ruptured spleen, and both of my legs were crushed from the knees down."
She had 25 surgeries and five years of rehabilitation. Those medical challenges may have slowed her down but didn’t destroy her desire to give back.
“As soon as I could talk,” Walton said, "I started telling people about Suited For Success and my dreams for that."
Her story hit the news and a local business gave her seed money in 1997 to open her nonprofit. Through referrals, she began dressing low income women in professional clothes to prepare them for the job market.
“I heard the other day it's one, one second to make that first impression,” she said.
The women come in and have their own volunteer personal shoppers to help them get fitted for the perfect look. Once they land a job, they can come back and get two more outfits.
“They're more than just a suit,” she said. "They're ready to be successful."
After 20 years, Susan has clothed more than 9,000 women. Now, she's ready to tackle another market, men, but she needs more space.
“There are becoming more single dads,” Walton said, "and our military guys that have been in the service need a little bit of help."
She also wants to one day have a mobile boutique to take her clothes to needy Oklahomans in rural areas.
“You know the Oklahoma standard,” she said. "They've always stepped up to help me accomplish this stuff. I'm hoping if I say it enough, it will land on the ears of someone who can help.”
Walton needs a 4,000 square feet space to expand. She also needs volunteers and donations, especially sizes 14 and up. Click here for more on Suited For Success and how you can help.