Amanda Alvear, 25, was the kind of person anyone would want in their life.
She prepared months in advance for birthdays and holidays, she loved spending times with her nieces and godchildren, and she would never turn down a friend in need.
“Her friends and her family meant everything to her,” her brother, Brian Alvear, said. “She just did everything for her friends.”
He called his sister a motivated and passionate young woman who liked to be in control.
“She was just ready for life. She had everything planned out,” Brian Alvear said.
Amanda Alvear was killed June 12, 2016 during the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Her best friend Mercedes Marisol Flores, was with her that night. Brian Alvear said the duo were part of a clique in high school called The Hyenaz.
“They would always make each other laugh. Everyone would see them laughing,” Brian Alvear said, adding that onlookers thought they looked like a group of laughing hyenas.
After graduating from Ridge Community High School, in Davenport, Amanda Alvear went on to attend Valencia College, where she learned the skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician.
Amanda Alvear planned to attend the University of South Florida so she could become a nurse and help deliver babies.
During her life, she inspired thousands of people by documenting her weight loss transformation on Instagram.
Her brother said she lost about 200 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery and was within 20 pounds of her goal weight before she died.
“I had no idea. It was very touching,” Brian Alvear said when he saw his sister’s impact on Instagram. “It fills me with pride that my little sister was such an amazing human being. She loved everyone.”
Amanda Alvear’s tragic death left her family scared and confused, but it also inspired them to prove that one man’s senseless act of hatred can’t overpower all the kindness, hope and goodwill in the world. That’s why they’re in the process of developing the Hugs Not Hate campaign.
Brian Alvear said they wanted to quell the fear sparked by the shooting, so a few days after his sister’s death, he began hugging strangers. The movement spread quickly and before he knew it, strangers across the globe were participating.
“It helped me a lot, because it kind of gave me a focus, and it helped me help my mom,” Brian Alvear said. “I didn’t think it would grow to this thing that it’s becoming, but I’m glad I got to do this for her.”
Brian Alvear said his mother, Mayra Alvear, was hit particularly hard by the tragedy and through the organization, she wants to make sure that no other victims of similar tragedies are forgotten.
"It's not fair when these things happen. I always seen on TV, on the news, where the other towns, San Bernardino, when Aurora, when the Sandy Hook happened, you cry with them when these tragedies happen and then it touches you. It's just awful. It's just awful. It's so much pain. it's so much pain, but I want to do something about it. I want to do something about it," Mayra Alvear said.
Brian Alvear said the campaign has helped him and his mother heal, and he thinks Amanda Alvear would appreciate being remembered in such a positive way.
“I hope she would just be happy and look at it as a positive, and I’m doing something that was pretty much how she lived her life, and I just want to keep that going in her honor.”
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