American Musician / Volunteer Emmanuel Gilligan Shot in Rio de Janeiro

For: Emmanuel Gilligan
Organizer: Mike Gilligan
of $100,000 goal.
Raised by 106 donors
15% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Emmanuel Gilligan is a wonderful, loving husband, who together with his wife, Julia, has four beautiful children: Arthur (20), Larissa (18), Carlin (16) and Shelina (14). Eman (as he goes by) and his talented and tight-knit family have been touching lives with their music and non-denominational mission work in Brazil, which has been their chosen home since 1995.

On March 5, Emmanuel was gunned down in broad daylight by two robbers on a motorbike. He had just withdrawn money from a local bank and was driving to make bill payments when he suddenly found himself being pursued by the motorbike with the man behind the driver brandishing a gun. Fearing for his life, Emmanuel attempted to evade the criminals, but was ultimately unable to outmaneuver and escape. In a rage, the bike raced to the driver's side of the car as the driver ordered his armed accomplice, "Kill him!"

The 9mm bullet ripped through Emmanuel's left arm, piercing his chest and lodging in his right shoulder blade. His left lung was perforated and his spinal cord was traumatized. Left for dead by the robbers and losing consciousness, he managed to write what he felt was likely his final message: scrawled in blood on the windshield were the letters, "ILY JZ." He was telling his wife Julia (whose pet name is Joolz), "I love you."

Within minutes an ambulance rushed him to a public hospital (government run). In the emergency ward the doctors frantically opened and drained his thorax, which was filled with blood from the collapsed lung. When conscious, Emmanuel told the doctors that he was unable to feel any sensation or make any movement with his legs.

Thankfully, Eman has now recovered from the life-threatening lung injury. Immeasurable thanks and gratitude to everyone who has been praying and pleading for Eman's life and recovery.

However, the hospital's neuro surgeons informed us that even though his spinal cord was not directly hit by the bullet, the sheer heat, velocity and energy released by the projectile created a lesion on the spinal cord. Initially the doctors told us Eman was "irreversibly paralyzed" from the chest down from this "searing" of the spinal cord. The CAT scans also revealed that fragment of shattered vertebrae were impinging his spinal cord.

When the neuro surgeons realized that despite their hopeless predictions, some perception of feeling was returning to Eman's legs, they reversed their previous decision, and on March 15th they operated on Eman's spine, and removed the three bone fragments from his spinal cord, at least one of which had penetrated it.

As of this writing Eman remains paralyzed from the chest down. The doctors have told us that only time will tell if he will regain functionality of the rest of his body, and that any kind of rehabilitation will require an immense amount of work and will power, as well as specialized physical therapy, and much patience.

The shooting and its consequences have been devastating for Emmanuel and his family. They are hoping to continue on in their adopted country and mission field, Brazil, whose people they love and where they have many dear friends and loved ones whose lives have been touched by their ministry and music.  They are researching the best treatment and physical therapy options available in Brazil, as well as exploring medical options in Eman's home country of the U.S. and Julia's home country, the UK.

Emmanuel and his family desperately need assistance to make it through this time of crisis. Their lives have been turned upside down. Expenses for medical treatment, physical therapy, travel expenses, equipment (wheel chair, house modifications, etc.), as well as support for their young family are all huge concerns. From one day to the next, Emmanuel is unable to participate in the band as the main instrumentalist and vocalist, which was the main source of income for his family. They are facing an unknown future but are putting their trust in the Lord. 

All monies donated through this Emmanuel Gilligan website will be used expressly for Eman's medical needs and rehabilitation, any incurred travel expenses, and to enable his personal family to carry on in their chosen mission field of Brazil. Julia has kept a detailed, photo-filled blog for relatives and friends of the family, where many more details of the shooting and the day-to-day events that have transpired since can be found:

A news article about the shooting that appeared in the Rio Times can be found here:

Another Rio Times article about a fundraiser held by the expat community in Rio for Eman can be found here:

If you would like to hear a beautiful song and prayer written and performed by Eman, "Lead Me to the Rock that is Higher than I," please click here:
Another inspiring song, "Third Option," which Eman wrote for his teenage daughter Larissa, can be found here:

The entire Gilligan family extends our heartfelt thanks to each of you who have expressed such concern and love for Emmanuel in this time of crisis. We know we are facing an uphill struggle to obtain the healing, recovery and restoration that is now needed. But Eman is an incredibly resilient, dedicated, and faith-filled young man, and he and Julia and their children are determined to persevere in "fighting the good fight of faith" and pursuing every medical, therapeutic, homeopathic avenue they can, and to trust God to do the "impossible" that they can't.

They have given all they can to serve and be a blessing to others, and we want to thank you for any amount that you could now give to them in this, their hour of  desperate need. Your prayers and giving are more appreciated than we can express. Thank you again, and God bless!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on July 10, 2013

Posted on July 10, 2013

Thank you everybody for your prayers & contributions for Eman!

Posted on May 13, 2013

Posted on May 13, 2013

We wanted to call your attention to a recent video of Eman in the hospital, entertaining fellow patients and nurses with his ukelele. You can see this video here:" target="_blank">

Posted on May 13, 2013

Posted on May 13, 2013

Much has happened since our last update! Eman was released from the hospital, and has been at home now for two weeks. It has been a time to try our patience, as the pressure ulcer has been healing ever so slowly. But, thank God, it IS healing. 

Eman's wife offered a wonderful update on her blog, which we will directly excerpt here:
"We do thank you for your continued prayers and concern. Eman was sent home from the hospital about ten days ago. Blood tests taken at the hospital showed that Eman is anemic. In light of that the plastic surgeons recommended waiting to perform the plastic surgery to close the wound on his back [from a pressure ulcer].
"Since his return home we've been focusing on his diet. Prioritizing foods rich in iron, protein and fiber. We've also started "juicing" - which we've heard gets minerals and vitamins to your blood stream within minutes and is very effective in rebuilding the body's immune system.
"Eman has to be rotated every two hours. To prevent further pressure ulcers from developing, Eman's body cannot be in the same position for longer than that. We take turns sleeping with him at night, setting alarms so that we can wake to turn him.
"Overall Eman's health is better. A week or so ago he would shake violently for almost a hour when we'd move him from his showering chair to his bed. Now-a-days this transition in smoother. We've have had 5 different therapists visit us for "in-home" sessions over the last couple weeks. This has been wonderful.
"As the days go by we are seeing the importance of exercising and working his body, besides strengthening his muscles it also helps them to relax. His leg muscles will involuntarily contract and tense all day long and even during the night which is extremely tiring for him and prevents him from getting uninterrupted sleep. It is a DAILY challenge to stay focused on keeping positive and facing these new challenges with faith and not succumbing to depression and despair. Some days are better than others.
"A month after Eman's shooting I finally got around to going to the bank to see where we were at financially. It was AMAZING to see HOW MANY contributions there were from all of you - THANK YOU!!!! We were really taken aback by the volume of contributors. It is so very kind of you. Some names we recognized and others we did not. To each one of you who kindly gave from your hard-earned reserves we thank you and pray that the Lord blesses you 100-fold."
(end of update from Julia)


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