this is "nightline." >> tonight, hope and healing. two months since the deadliest mass shooting in modern u.s. history. how those left in the wake of tragedy in orlando are turning their pain into power. one mother's crusade. >> no one needs a high weapon. no one. >> and the unspoken challenges they face every day, coming to terms with loss and finding inspiration. . >> i have christopherura's vote now. >> we went toe to toe with make
good evening, thanks for joining us. it's been two months since that horrific massacre at the pulse nightclub, but for those who survived, the heart ache is still fresh. we traveled back to orlando to follow-up with those loved ones whose lives were forever changed. one grieving mother turned accidental activist. speaking out for gun control in the midst of this contentious political season. vowing to turn her tragedy into triumph. >> here's a picture o his birthday. he was one of the good ones. you would have loved him. as your neighbor, as your son, as your cousin. you would have loved him. because he was what we want to be. >> reporter: for christine line nen, life will never be the same. >> so this is unfortunately, what you're left with when your son suddenly gets massacred.
your space. >> here, inside her living room, she's surrounded by the belongings of the son she lost. >> i just really shoved everything in wherever i could find a space. i don't want to get rid of his things. they're so much a part of him. this is all i have. this is what he loved. >> reporter: it's been two months since that frenzied morning when the world saw this confused and frightened mother's face for the first time. >> well, they said there's a lot >> reporter: her only son, christopher, and his boyfriend, juan guerrero, gunned down, among the 49 killed at the gay nightclub pulse. >> i called him last night at 6:00 and i left him with, i love you. >> the crush of cameras now gone, but the city of orlando, still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history. 62 days later, it's just as easy to legally purchase an assault
attention on the high capacity assault rifle. >> yes. >> the type of weapon that was used? >> right. no one needs a high-powered weapon. no one. >> reporter: the gunman managed to wound victims with more than 200 bullets. christine and so many others, learning the gruesome details of their loved one's murder in autopsy results released just last week. >> why is it so important for you to have that information? >> well, i need to know, even though it haunts slaughtered and his entire torso was tore up with seven to nine bullets. so many shots, so quickly, so easily. and that he legally bought that high powered weapon just one week before the shooting. >> reporter: one last victim still clings to life in the hospital all these days later. but the damage left behind, not just physical. the emotional scars are fueling the nation's outrage, and
control. but despite a passionate senate filibuster and that dramatic sit-in on the house floor led by congressman joe lewis, every single piece of lislation has since failed. >> we don't know who is going to be the next mass shooter. all we can do is try to protect ourselves from this type of weapon, so that when they do get their fuse lit, that maybe we quickly. >> reporter: she echoed that sentiment in front of thousands at the democratic national convention, supported by two of her son's friends. >> that love always trumps hate. >> reporter: her home state of florida, now a battleground, in every sense of the word. she's been campaigning with pro-gun control senate hopeful patrick murphy, working to unseat republican marco rubio. >> we could solve this.
>> for the many survivors of the pulse rampage, the emotional wounds only seem to deepen. twob-year-old tiara parker was shot that night, after what started out as a night out dancing with her cousin and a close friend. i met with her just hours after she was released from the hospital. >> can you see the holes? >> reporter: those are the bullet holes? >> yes. >> that's unbelievable. >> reporter: for three hours, the trio was trapped in the nightclub bathroom. so the bullet went in there? >> came out of my back. >> reporter: and then a chilling moment. coming face to face with the killer. >> i guess he must have thought i died with my eyes open. and i just kept staring at him. from then i thought, he was going to shoot me in my face. but i was just sitting there and i just stared at him. then after he got up, you just hear him say, oh, yeah. >> reporter: she and her friend patience carter, managed to survive the horror, but her
graduated high school, died that tragic night. >> i'm pushing through as much as i can. >> reporter: earlier this week i checked in on her in her hometown of philadelphia? describe the pain. >> i feel like my lungs are caving in. like there's no light anywhere, i'm just spinning in one circle. that's how i feel. >> reporter: but even from the depth the despair she's risen to help others. last week she appeared on stage with jessica for the teen choice courage award. >> tonight we stand together with these teens, united in our call for peace, and an end to this violence. >> reporter: but even as she's recognized for her heroism, the unrelenting cycle of gun violence continues. >> a man was shot three times in north philadelphia. >> reporter: two weeks ago, another of her beloved cousins -- murdered. 24-year-old donte williams killed by an unknown gunman.
hey, kuz, and hug him. i don't think anybody understands. they were my close knit. they meant everything to me. i seen donte two days before he was killed. as she was breathing, i try to stay focused. >> sleepless nights, recurring nightmares. tiara experiencing the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress. she said she s find the right treatment. as for christine's healing process -- >> what i have found that has. the most cathartic, believe it or not, has been being around christopher's friends. i loved them all before anyway. i was always stealing his friends on facebook. he'd say, mom, stop stealing my friends. i said, i won't say anything creepy, i promise. >> reporter: on this night, christine's hanging out with
were out with her son and juan that night at pulse, but managed to run out when the shooting began. >> you're two months out, what goes tlur your mind? >> not that i escaped death, that i was lucky in any way, but that two of my best friends did not escape death. i never want this to happen to anybody else. >> reporter: which is why brandon and some of christopher's other friends created the drew project, to help >> gay people really struggle to survive every day, for someone to come to our home, where we feel safe, where we love each other and protect each other and harm us, if that's not a rallying call, then i don't know what else we need. >> reporter: turning pain into purpose. >> when this matures, it's going to have a rainbow bark. >> reporter: planted in memory of her son.
christopher's blooming corner, with flowers and rainbows in honor of him. >> i'm not the same. on june 12th, i became a different christine. one that's going to be more powerful in some ways, but so lost and empty in so many ways. >> of course our hearts go out to all the families touched by this tragedy. up next for us, a former brawny beauty about to make her olympic debut. and later, simone biles sticks the landing in rio. . looks right to me. shouldn't it be clear- clearly... it is time to get a great deal d a reward card on this turbocharged jetta. gotta make room for the 2017 models. it is a clarence event. why is that so hard for people to understand? it seems clar to me. clear to me.
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? ? you know, when she was a model, she knocked people out with her looks. now as an olympic boxer, she's doing it with her fists. mikaela mayer, the face of soft drinks and clothing lines, she's entering the ring, just hours away from the fight of her life. here's abc's rachel smith. >> i think i'm boxer. long punches, good jabs. solid right-hand, left hook. >> reporter: landing punches like this, is what mikaela mayer hopes will win her the fight for olympic gold. >> my ultimate goal is everything and beyond. i want to be on that podium with the gold medal. and i want to build a career after that. >> mikaela mayer! >> reporter: i first met her early last year, fighting not
olympic stadium, but in this baseme basement gym in the outskirts of atlanta, where some of the best amateurs in the world facing off at the tournament of champions. a ramp up to the olympics. >> red corner, michaela mayer! >> reporter: michaela spends almost all of her timen the jim, three times a day, six days a week. training her >> my boxing work-outs are literally more mentally draining than they are physically. >> reporter: now a serious olympic medal contender, michaela's road to rio was an unlikely one, while her teammate clarissa shields started boxing as a kid, and had won gold by 17. when michaela was a teenager, she was fighting, but nowhere near a boxing ring. >> why were you kicked out of school? >> i was kicked out of school
>> reporter: she said her life was starting to take a dark turn. >> when i found boxing, i switched gears. it focused me. i topped going out. i stopped partying. i cracked down in school. >> it seems that being in the ring is not about fighting and taking out anger, it's about discipline and technique. >> definitely. there's a bigger goal now. >> reporter: to fund that goal, michaela has had to use her braun and her beauty. >> millions of girls are told they're pretty. >> reporter: she's been the face of dr. pepper. >> but not many end up becoming a model. >> reporter: she's even been featured for the muhammad ali collection. >> have the prettiest foot work, the prettiest face. >> reporter: a run-time model, she doesn't mind the bright lights, but she says female fighters shouldn't have to show skin to get paid. >> how you fight in the ring, your skill, that's all that
pretty face behind their products and it's sad but true and that's the harsh realities of the world. >> reporter: in another harsh reality it's the men, mayweather and pacquiao ring a bell? the top ranking female fighters make less than minimum wage. >> a typical championship fight for a woman professional, she'd make about $5,000 still. but a man professional, for a championship fight, he's and potentially millions of dollars. >> reporter: something that these heavy hitters are hoping they can knock out together. >> i do believe i'm going to get a chance to headline in vegas. you gotta be, you know, a woman that everybody wants to see fighting. >> reporter: but this year, they have their sights not set on green, but on gold. just last month, we caught up with mikaela at the u.s. olympic training center and colorado
olympic hopefuls from team usa, were living and training. >> you're surrounded by athletes with the same common goal. so really, every direction you turn is an olympic focus. it's almost like you're back in college a little bit. because it's kind of dorm-style living and everybody eats in the same cafeteria, but it's fun. >> reporter: in the lead-up to the olympics, the fighters have become a family. >> okay! >> close your eyes. >> okay >> put your hand out. >> how cute is that? >> it's a sword! oh, my gosh, i love it. >> isn't that so cute? >> you better like it. >> good job, mikaela, that is cute. >> supporting her every step of the way, jenny fierce, her sparring buddy and travel mate for years. >> she's one of my best friends. she's not competing in rio, but she's going to be there with me
>> caller: and of course clarissa shields who is defending her own gold medal. >> clarissa is five years younger than me, but she's already an olympic gold medalist. she's been here, she's done this. so i look at her as inspiration. she's going to help me mentally when i'm there, knowing that i have her by my side. >> you got to shoot that cannon. double the cannon up, okay? >> reporter: mixing a little fun wither had fighting, the women even came up with code names for their punches. >> get out your sword. fire the cannon. walk the plank, you're walking them back towards the rope. >> it's a lot of work, so we got to find spots to kinda make ourselves laugh and have a good time. >> reporter: and now, after years of hard work, dedication, and sile-minded focus, mikaela's made it to rio and she says she's ready for the biggest fight of her life. >> it was really a brutal path
it were very slim. but to have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. you have to believe you're the best before you're the best. >> for "nightline," i'm rachel smith in atlanta. up next, simone biles leaves it all on the mat in the all-around competition. >> abc news "nightline," brought to you by pfizer. had a lot of d. i was a smoker. hands down, it was, that's who i was. i knew i could quit. along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. chantix definitely helped reduce my urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. some had seizures while taking chantix. if you have any of these, stop chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of mental health problems, which could get worse or of seizures. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it.
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? simone biles was already considered by most to be the best gymnast in the world. tonight she won the medal just to prove it. >> reporter: it's the world's greatest gymnast. simone biles springing into action. and grabbing that coveted title in rio, winning the women's individual all-around gold medal. standing tall at just 4'9", the 19-year-old, unstoppable, defying gravity, flipping and flying through the air. landing, a champion. joining the pantheon of great,s mary lou retton, nastia liukin,
douglas. >> a dream come true for the ohio native. >> i was just a really hyperkid and i was always bouncing off the walls. so gymnastics fit perfectly and i didn't try any other sports. gymnastics chose me. i've loved it every since. >> her signature flip aptly named the biles. on the second flip she does a half turn and lands forward. >> i believe it's the most difficult routine ever performed in the short of gymnastics. >> her teammate aly raisman, impressing with the silver second. biles relishing the victory with her teammates, leaving rio with that coveted medal and a taste of triumph. thanks for watching.
news.com and our "nightline" facebook page. goodnight, america. full swing. the market has been helped by solid employment news, a rebound in oil prices and good earnings reports from major reta one of these retails, macy's posted falling sales and slower traffic at the stores, but the numbers weren't as bad as feared. the company announced they'll close about 14 % of their locations. they say some of the locations