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Kimberly Morris, Pulse Victim

On June 12, 2016, 49 lives were stolen at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was Latin Night and the majority of those taken and injured were members of Orlando’s LGBTQ Latinx community. Not all of the lives lost that night were queer ones.

Here is a tribute to seven of the women who lost their lives that night in the words of those who knew them best.

 

Amanda AlvearAmanda Alvear, 25
“She was loving, she was caring, she always had an open ear, she always wanted to help people… She had an amazing heart.” – Sandy Marte, friend

Amanda loved fashion, dancing, spreading joy; and her nieces. She was a nursing student at University of South Florida and a pharmacy technician.

 
 

Deonka Deidra DraytonDeonka Deidra Drayton, 32
“She was becoming who she was, more so than what everyone else wanted her to be.” – Shepherd Drayton, father

Deonka was described as driven, ambitious, a lover of art, and a people person. She survived an accident and a brain injury as a child and was working to make make her life better. Most importantly, she was loved.

 

Mercedez FloresMercedez Marisol Flores, 26
“She was just a really fun nice person and cared a lot about her friends. She really did live her life the way she wanted to.” – Jennifer Flores, niece

Mercedez was outgoing, full of life, friendly, and had a “beautiful smile that would light up a room,” said Kelly George. She was a literature student at Valencia College, a fashionista, and a dedicated aunt to her nieces.

 

Brenda McCool, Pulse SurvivorBrenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
“She was always really cool, but really a mom at the end of the day…the sweetest lovingest person in the world.” – Khalisha Pressley, daughter

Brenda was a two-time cancer survivor, avid salsa dancer, fighter, and the mother of 11 children. She was with her son, Isaiah Henderson, at Pulse and sacrificed herself so that he would survive.

 

Kimberly Morris, Pulse Victim Kimberly “KJ” Morris, 37
“She was just the sweetest person. I can’t think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face.” – Narvell Benning, friend

Avid dancer, celebrated drag king (Daddy K), friend, and Pulse bouncer, Kimberly was just starting her life in Florida. She loved mixed martial arts and was excited to become part of Orlando’s LGBTQ community.

 

Akyra Monet MurrayAkyra Monet Murray, 18
“Akyra’s life was short and shining. It shined everywhere she went. It shined in the classroom. It shined in the community. And it shined on the basketball court.” – Pastor Pamela Williams

Friends and family described her as having joy, determination and warmth. This spring she would have finished her freshman year at Mercyhurst University.

 

Yilmary RodriguezYilmary “Mary” Solivan Rodriguez, 24
“She was the most loving and caring person you could ever meet, her smile lit up the room and her laughter brought a smile to your heart!” – Natalia Canlan, sister

Yilmary is survived by her family, including her two young sons, Jariel and Sergio.

 

 

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