As his daughter lay in a funeral home, Greg Medek said his goodbyes.
He told her of the dreams and hopes he had for her future and how all of them were ripped away when a gunman walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012 and killed a dozen people.
Medek is reminded of that pain every time he sees another school, nightclub, concert or workplace shattered by gunfire. The pain quickly turns to anger as he watches the same response by lawmakers, knowing gun laws will never change. He lost hope long ago that anything would stanch the blood flow in an America that stole his daughter, Micayla.
But for the first time, that hopelessness has been replaced with optimism. And for the first time, hes getting political and plans to attend a local March for Our Lives rally in Denver on Saturday.
Medek isnt alone. Other survivors of mass shootings and families of victims say they plan to march, too, in the nationwide protests against gun violence organized by students in Parkland, Fla., who lost 17 people on Feb. 14.
Medek and others say something is different this time, something that has disrupted the normal cycle after tragedy strikes: The students are fierce and not backing down until gun laws change.
"I watched these kids and the walkouts and had to turn it off because I was going to cry. Someone is finally doing it and making other people care," Medek said. "I dont think this is just a trend or a fad. These students are here to stay, and Im so thankful to them."
Colin Goddard called 911 and hid as the bullets tore through his classroom door at Virginia Tech.
He was hit four times. A total of 17 people were in the same classroom. He was one of seven in that room who survived.
Goddard, now 32, made it his mission to push for gun-control measures after the 2007 attack. He joined the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety organizations and lobbied for changes.
After the attack, President George W. Bush signed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act, which helped tighten reporting on people with mental health issues. The legislation is considered one of the strongest recent federal mandates on gun sales.
Yet, the shootings continued — and the death toll after each tragedy continued to mount, Goddard said.
"We pushed for years in Congress, but we made very little progress," he said.
Every time seemed to feel the same, he said. The same horrifying images. The same grief. The same conversations and demands for change. All with nearly the same result.
Its been tiring to watch the madness for the 11 years since 32 people were killed at his school, he said.
But seeing the students in Parkland has left him feeling re-energized.
"Its just incredible to watch these young people stand up," he said. "As someone who has been on this route for some time, you cant help but get inspired."
He said while efforts by the core group of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have led to some changes, they arent in this alone: "No survivor needs to feel the weight of a movement by themselves."
He plans to attend the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., thats estimated to bring about 500,000 people.
"We have to remain hopeful," he said. "Its not a matter of if there will be changes but when, and I think these Parkland students have brought us closer to that when."
Marion Bowman protested when she was younger.
She pushed for womens rights and against racial segregation. Youths were leading the efforts then, too, she said.
"Young people are the impetus for change. Nothing gets done without them, and these young people in Parkland arent letting things go," said Bowman, 73. "I have hope that something big is happening."
In December 2015, her life was changed forever. She walked into her Pennsylvania home and saw a flash on the news about a possible shooting during a Christmas party at a county government building in San Bernardino, Calif.
As the information and images started to pour in, she realized thats where her son, Harry, who was known as "Hal," worked. She kept calling him, but no one picked up.
It wasnt until she made a call to the coroner that she got the dreaded confirmation of what she already suspected: He was one of the 14 killed.
"Its impossible to live the same after that," Bowman said. "I was angry in the beginning, but didnt have the time or the effort to do what these kids are doing."
She said she does try, though. She has urged friends to send postcards to members of Congress asking for changes in gun laws, including age restraints, more complete background checks and the elimination of high-powered rifles.
She plans to attend a march near her home in Pennsylvania to support the students in Parkland, and to honor her son, who was a loving, active and smart father of two.
"I just hope these kids keep pushing and pushing for all of us," she said. "We need them."
Hispanic music was bumping inside Pulse nightclub even though it was about 2 a.m. — nearing closing time.
Brandon Wolf went to the bathroom as his friends stayed on the dance floor. Thats when the gunfire started. It sounded like it was part of the music. Dozens piled into the bathroom. They looked like theyd seen death.
"Ill never forget that feeling and the hair sticking up on the back of my neck," said Wolf, 29.
He ran from the Orlando nightclub and made it about a block before it dawned on him: "Drew and Juan are still in there.
"I knew the worst had happened, but I didnt want to let myself believe it," Wolf said. "I didnt understand how big it was."
His friends Christopher "Drew" Leinonen and Juan Guerrero were two of the 49 people killed in the attack.
Since the June 2016 shooting, Wolf has been a fierce advocate for gun safety. He appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention, met with President Obama and has talked several times with lawmakers about changes in gun laws.
"And it didnt do anything. No one did anything. Thats the most frustrating thing. They didnt because they didnt feel like they had to," Wolf said.
He said lawmakers didnt feel pressured enough and knew "if they hold out for just long enough, the public, the media and the country will just move on."
He hasnt, though, and says its clear students in Parkland and across the country arent going to move on either.
Wolf met with several of the students and says he brought them under his wing because its part of "our responsibility as survivors to protect one another and offer support."
He plans to travel to Washington for this Saturdays rally with the mother of one of his friends who died in the Orlando attack. He says hell march for the fallen, for the future and to support this new generation of advocates.
He describes the aftermath in Parkland as the "perfect storm."
Lawmakers are in session and able to immediately take on issues, the Republican Florida governor is debating a Senate run, and these students are teenagers and cant be deemed too partisan, he said.
"Theyre the leaders weve been waiting for," he said. "They will finally do it."
Maisie Devine thought she was missing the fireworks. She heard the loud pops but didnt see any colorful explosions in the sky.
That was when her co-worker pulled her to the ground at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October.
The gunfire ricocheted off equipment they were hiding behind. She watched others get hit and fall to the ground.
Devine, 29, escaped uninjured in the shooting rampage. Fifty-eight died in the attack and hundreds of others were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
She says the memories still haunt her. But one of the things that kept her going was pushing to make sure this type of attack never happened again by changes in gun laws. She met with lawmakers in Congress and worked with Everytown for Gun Safety to outlaw bump stocks, an attachment found on firearms in the attack that speeds up the pace of gunfire.
"It helped me heal. The people who died dont have a voice anymore, so I really think its part of every survivors responsibility to speak up," Devine said. "But these kids in Parkland have a level of courage Ive never seen before."
Little action was taken in the immediate aftermath of the attack, but that changed after the Parkland shooting four months later. President Trump signed an executive action that targeted bump stocks; the Justice Department is in the process of outlawing them.
Devine said seeing the deadlock in Congress was jarring. She said she didnt understand why another shooting had to happen before something was done.
"It was extremely hard. I was depressed by it. It felt like my experience and the lives of the 58 people who were murdered just didnt matter," she said. "It seemed like nothing would ever change the minds of lawmakers."
Shes traveling from New York to Washington for the March for Our Lives because "I think this time can actually lead to change."