Tony Marrero, a 30-year-old Orlando resident who was shot in the back five times during the massacre at Pulse nightclub, got a huge surprise from one of his idols on Ellen.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter employee recalled his horrowing account of the night to Degeneres. He said he got a call from his friend Luis, who is straight, but wanted to check out the gay club’s Latin night.
Marrero says the duo had a great time, and when the bartender announced last call, Marrero and Luis — neither of whom drank — got up to leave.
That’s when the gunfire rang out.
Marrero said he was shot four times in the back and once in the arm, but managed to crawl to the door and get help from police. He says he was technically considered dead while en route to the hospital in an ambulance.
Luis and 48 others were killed.
Marrero credited Perry’s “Rise” with helping him get through his hospital stay, and joked that he played it to the point of his boyfriend’s annoyance.
“The lyrics to that song are so powerful,” he said. “Every word in that song is so powerful, so I embraced it.”
“Have you met Katy yet?” Degeneres asked. “You wanna meet Katy?”
That’s when Katy appeared on stage and embraced the young survivor.
Marrero told Perry: “I just want to say thank you for everything you do. Your lyrics to that song helped me from the day that I was in the hospital until now.”
“I’m happy that I could be there in my own little way to help you,” said Perry.
Perry said she learned of Marrero’s dream to attend film school, and said that she was personally paying for his first year of school.
Ellen also announced she would be donating $25,000 to the Pulse Victim’s Fund, which has raised nearly $8 million to date.