Angel Colon’s life would change forever the night of June 12, 2016, at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, when a gunman shot and killed 49 people and injured dozens more. Colon sustained six gunshot wounds and suffered a broken femur, barely surviving that horrifying night.
Colon, 27, an avid jogger and Zumba instructor who prided himself on his fitness regime — once managing to lose 85 pounds by running every morning and evening — was left debilitated. And though his path to recovery has been long and arduous, he is determined to return to his former self.
“I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just decided I have to move forward,” Colon said. “I need to just recover from this and do my best to just get back to where I was.”
His recovery included four surgeries as well as intense physical therapy to regain his energy and strength. Immediately following the attack, Colon admits he was upset and angry, but soon realized that the only way to truly heal was to stay positive. He credits his determination and zeal to the support provided by his mother and sisters.
“My recovery would be completely different if I didn’t have them by my side. They’ve always been there for me,” said Colon. “Our bond has always been strong, but it’s even stronger now.”
The outpouring of support for Colon extended far beyond his family. Local communities, organizations, and cities across the country showed unwavering support in honoring the victims and survivors of the Orlando shooting; monuments across the world illuminated the night sky in rainbow colors, signifying solidarity with the LGBTQ community following the tragedy.
“Feeling the love and support not just from your city and your country, but from all over the world — it helped a lot,” said Colon.
He says the love and support he and other survivors have experienced drives him everyday to make the best out of tragic circumstances.
“Being able to be here everyday, it’s like you have a second chance in life and I’m going to make the best of it.”
To learn how you can help Colon and those affected by the Orlando shooting, visit HRC’s Stop The Hate and take action by supporting victims’ families and survivors through One Orlando Alliance. You can also contact your member of congress by texting MY CONGRESS to 30644 and tell them to support commonsense gun safety laws.