Nicholas Dworet would have turned 18 years old on Saturday, his friends revealed during the March For Our Lives event in Washington, DC.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior was one of 17 people killed on February 14 when gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 inside the Parkland, Florida school.
Samantha Fuentes, 18, who was shot in both legs and hit with shrapnel in her face, gave a heart-wrenching speech at the rally pleading for stricter gun laws.
In the middle of her addressing the crowd Fuentes, overcome with emotion, ducked behind the podium to vomit but quickly gathered herself together.
‘I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!’ she said.
Before walking off the stage Fuentes asked the crowd of 800,00 people to help her sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in honor of her friend, ABC News reports.
‘I have one more request. Today is March 24, March for Our Lives. But it also the birthday of Nick Dworet. Someone that was senselessly murdered in front of me,’ she said.
As the large crowd sang, some teens held each other and cried. Fuentes got emotional but continued to sing.
Earlier on Saturday, student Cameron Kasky read the names of all 17 people killed in the shooting. He saved Dworet’s name for last.
‘And I saved Nicholas for the end, because today is Nicholas’ birthday,’ Kasky said. ‘Nicholas, we are all here for you. Happy birthday.’
Dworet’s family said in a statement that the teen was the captain of Marjory Stoneman’s swim team. He was supposed to start University of Indianapolis in the fall where he was going to join the university’s swim team.
‘He was a happy young man full of joy and life,’ the statement read. ‘He dreamed of making the Olympic swim team and going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He believed he could accomplish anything as long as he tried his best.’
‘Nick’s death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it oftentimes affects us at home,’ UN.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the March For Our Lives events on Saturday.
The main event was held in DC, but another 800 events took place around the world in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Nashville and other areas.
Globally, events were held in Paris, London, Berlin, Sydney, Mumbai, Tokyo.
Fuentes was just one of many Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who gave speeches.
The teens were joined by a raft of stars including George and Amal Clooney, who donated $500,000 to the event, Jimmy Fallon, Steven Spielberg, Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus.
Singers including Andra Day and Jennifer Hudson were among those who performed in front of the crowds.
A satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe showed the massive crowd at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on Saturday.
Digital Globe called the nationwide demonstrations calling for gun control, collectively, one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam era.
David Hogg, one of the Stoneman Douglas survivors who has been at the forefront of the issue ever since, spoke confidently about the event on Saturday morning in an early interview with GMA.
‘Today we are going to start a revolution.
‘This is the beginning of a lifelong marathon not only for me but for my generation.
‘We are sick and tired of the inaction here in Washington and around the country at different state capitals and different cities, of politicians that are owned by the NRA and not listening to the constituents of America.
‘We are the children. We are making our voices heard and we will change America with or without these politicians and today is the beginning of that revolution,’ he declared.
‘If you listen real close you can hear the people in power shaking.
‘They’ve gotten used to being protective of their position, through the safety of inaction. Inaction is no longer safe. To that, we say, no more!’
Hogg spoke of making gun violence a ‘voting issue’ which will lead the primary elections.
‘We are going to take this to every election to every state and every city.
‘We are going to make sure the best people get in to run, not as politicians but as Americans,’ he fumed.
Pointing to the Capitol, he added: ‘This… is not cutting it. At the end of the speech, he told the crowd: ‘I love you all. God bless you and God bless the United States of America’.
The final speech was the most compelling.
It was delivered by Emma Gonzalez, who was in Stoneman Douglas on February 14 when gunman Nikolas Cruz stormed the building with an AR-15.
During the middle of her speech, Emma went silent for several minutes until she had been on stage for a total of 6 minutes and 20 seconds – the exact amount of time it took Cruz to murder 17 people and injure 15 more.
‘Six minutes and 20 seconds… In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken, 15 were injured and everyone, absolutely everyone, in the Douglas community was forever altered,’ she said.