Sam Fuentes has bullets wounds in her both of her legs and bits of shrapnel lodged behind her cheek and right eye. Still, despite the very real and painful ways that her body carries the memories of the day a fellow classmate shot her and killed 17 others with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, Fuentes proved over the weekend that nothing can keep her voice down. Not even her nerves.
Fuentes was mid-speech at a March for Our Lives event when she threw up in front of a crowd of over five hundred thousand people.
The high school student and survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was in D.C. delivering both an impassioned speech and poem that she’d written when she became ill and vomited. “Lawmakers and politicians will scream guns are not the issue,” the gunshot survivor said at the student-led demonstration. Before she could finish, Fuentes choked up mid-sentence and turned her head to throw up on stage. It was a moment that anyone else might have felt too mortified to continue through but Fuentes had a message she knew she had to finish. After taking a moment to collect herself, Fuentes raised her hands and shouted: “I just threw up on international television and it feels great!”
Whether or not Fuentes was sick, overwhelmed by the crowd, or experiencing symptoms of her PTSD from the shooting have yet to be made clear, but either way she decided to power through. As another student from her high school stood at her side, Fuentes completed her speech and pleaded to lawmakers to work out a compromise so that we can “save one another.”
Fuentes’s presence on stage was filled with various emotionally arresting moments, but one of the most touching came after she led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Nick Dworet, a fellow classmate who was murdered during the Feb. 14 shooting and would have turned 18 on March 24.
Fuentes’ moment of illness left many watching completely without words.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews brought to tears after Parkland survivor vomits onstage, then returns with a smile to sing "Happy Birthday" to one of the victims https://t.co/tgsjC5aflr #marchforourlives pic.twitter.com/kt3msg3OXZ
— Variety (@Variety) March 24, 2018
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was brought to tears on camera while doing live coverage off Fuentes’s speech for the march. “You don’t fake this stuff,” he said while dabbing at his eyes with a tissue. “This is real emotion.”
Even J.K. Rowling was moved by Fuentes and the conviction that helped her to finish her speech.
@jk_rowling is this real? Oh my god I love you, thank you for believing me.
— Sam Fuentes (@funkpuncher) March 25, 2018
Rowling’s tweet was, for many, validation of a spreading comparison on social platforms of the Parkland survivors to Dumbledore’s Army from the Harry Potter books. Think about it, these kids are bright, proving themselves to be fearless while under threat and also ready to fight for and save an entire country.
Fuentes and her fellow classmates are going to change the world and don’t you forget it.
Watch Fuentes’s powerful speech below.
(Please beware some might consider the moment that she gets ill on stage to be sensitive.)