Get your tissues ready. Katy Perry had a heart-wrenching meeting with Tony Marrero, a survivor of this summer’s Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, during a Thursday, September 8, appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Watch the emotional moment in the clip above.
Marrero, 30, an employee of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, was asked to stop by Ellen DeGeneres’ show to recount his memories of Sunday, June 12, the night he almost died after a gunman shot and killed 49 patrons and injured dozens more at the LGBT nightclub.
The Florida resident went on to explain that he was shot four times in the back and once in the arm, but believes he made it out alive because he remembered to protect his head by positioning it underneath a couch. During his recovery in the hospital, Marrero said that the inspirational message behind Perry’s latest single, “Rise” — which was released back in July and used as the official theme for the 2016 Rio Olympics — helped him get through the tough time.
“I won’t just survive / Oh, you will see me thrive / Can’t write my story / I’m beyond the archetype,” Perry belts in the song. “I won’t just conform / No matter how you shake my core / ‘Cause my roots, they run deep.”
“The lyrics to that song are so powerful. Every word in that song is just powerful,” he told the daytime host, 58, as his boyfriend looked on from the audience. “And I embraced it … I play it and play it and play it because it’s just so beautiful.”
DeGeneres then asked Marrero if he would like to meet the pop star, 31. Before he could even answer, the host welcomed the singer to the stage. Perry walked out to the sound of “Rise” and Marrero, clearly surprised and overcome with emotion, immediately began to cry. The “Firework” songstress — also teary-eyed — went in to give her fan a huge hug.
“I just want to say thank you for everything you do,” Marrero told Perry, as seen in the clip above. “Your lyrics to [“Rise”] helped me from the day I was in the hospital all the way until now. You’re amazing.”
“We’re both electrified by each other and so inspired. We’re both lights,” the superstar replied. “Life isn’t easy, and you need little reliefs, through songs, quite possibly. I’m happy to be a joy, I’m happy to be a light, and I’m happy I could be there in my own little way to help you.”
Perry then told Marrero, an aspiring filmmaker, that she would pay for his first year of film school. To see his reaction, watch the video above.