Pulse nightclub shooting victim honored at football game

Hundreds turn out at preseason game to honor graduate who died in shooting

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hundreds turned out Friday night to not only see Edgewater High School battle Winter Park in a preseason game, but to also honor a graduate who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Cory Connell, 21, had been wrapping up a night spent out dancing with his girlfriend when Omar Marteen stormed into Pulse and opened fire.

Connell was shot and killed.

Friday night, his family said his spirit touched every player on the field in the form of a patch. It beared Connell's initials, "C.C.," and players wore it on their left sleeve.

Connell's family watched the game from just on the other side of the end zone.

"I miss him every day. Every day, I miss him," his mother said.

Tara Connell said the pain of losing her son is still very fresh two months after the shooting.

His sister, Amanda, said coming back to a football field for her brother brought back memories.

"It touches home. It makes me know that he is here with me," she said. "The game is going on here tonight, and it's going to bring me back to ninth grade when I went. My brother was playing football."

At halftime, Edgewater High School's principal presented the Connell family with Cory's retired jersey, No. 81.

"We do have good days. We do have bad days," his mother said. "Obviously, this is an awesome day. He's looking down on us right now with a big huge smile, putting his arms around this entire community that he was blessed to be a part of. Now, we are blessed to be a part of what he has done for this community."

The Connell family said the presentation was especially poignant since Thursday would have been Cory's 22nd birthday.

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