Remembering the Orlando 49: Luis Vielma

Remembering the Orlando 49: Luis Vielma

Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Luis Vielma

When his co-workers raised their wands for Luis Vielma outside the Hogwarts castle at Universal Orlando, they remembered the fallen Gryffindor for his bravery and kindness.

Vielma, 22, was an attendant for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, something his younger sister Kim Vielma says he always wanted to do. He graduated from Seminole High School in 2011 and from Seminole State College in 2014, according to his obituary. Recently, he had enrolled at the college again to train as an emergency medical technician. Like the children of many Latino immigrants, Vielma served as the English translator for his Spanish-speaking parents.

As the oldest of three, he helped his parents with their businesses and mentored his siblings, according to sister. Kim says she and her other brother Brian would tease Vielma by calling him "Little Lulu" or "Luigi." She remembers her brother loved their mother’s tacos and going down to La Mexicana store in Sanford to buy Takis and horchata. In his free time, Vielma volunteered at the All Souls Catholic church in Sanford and played soccer with the Deltona Adult Soccer League.

Kim says her brother was supposed to her chambelán, a Prince Charming-type escort, at her Cinderella-themed quinceañera that summer. She was in Mexico with her mother buying her dress when they got an urgent call from her father about Vielma. They dropped everything and raced to Orlando, but it was too late. Vielma was confirmed as one of the 49 victims of the mass shooting on June 12 at the gay nightclub Pulse.

"We came back and our world definitely broke into pieces," she writes. "I would love for people to know how much of a kind spirit he was. We can't bear the feeling without him here. He was that ray of sunshine in our lives to make everything better. Nothing in the world could ever repair that void in my heart."

After Vielma's death, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the world he loved so much, sent a wreath of red flowers to his funeral and a handwritten card.

"To Luis, who died for love," the author wrote. "You will never be forgotten."

Vielma was buried in his parents' hometown, Coyuca de Catalán, Mexico. Near the candles, plush toys and flowers left in a memorial at Pulse, his family left a poster decorated with pictures of the young man and hearts.

"Living in this world without you is not easy, but I know that God has you in his arms," his younger sister, Kim Vielma, wrote. "I remember that last tight hug I gave you before I went to Mexico, you tried letting me go sooner but I held on tight to annoy you. ... Luis, you made me the wonderful person I am today. I can't wait to have my first dance with you in heaven. Brian and I looked up to you as the perfect human being you were. We all need your strength and love to push forward. We love you and adore you with all of our hearts. Nothing will ever change that. I love you so much Luis. I'll see you again soon."


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