In times of tragedy, heroes emerge.
One of those heroes during Sunday's terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando was 49-year-old Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, a mother of 11 children and a two-time cancer survivor. She died during the horrific attack as she shielded her son, Isaiah Henderson, 21, from Mateen's hail of bullets.
McCool had gone to the club to enjoy the salsa music and dance, which she loved, and have a fun night with her openly gay son and his friends.
"Brenda saw him [Mateen] point the gun. She said, 'Get down,' to Isaiah and she got in front of him," Brenda's sister-in-law, Ada Pressley, told the New York Daily News. "She was shot dead. That's how much she loved her kids. If it weren't for her, he'd of been shot."
After the attack, Henderson scrambled to find his mother and was not informed until Monday that she was one of the innocent souls that had lost their lives. He took to Facebook to remember his heroic mother. "Just laying here thinking that I was just with my mom 24 hours ago, this is so surreal. I love you mom."
One of Brenda's children, Farrell Marshall, has created a GoFundMe page to support the family in the wake of this loss. He wrote, "We have confirmation that this wonderful and caring woman known as a mother of 11 children left behind from fighting 2 types of cancer and now to be taken off this earth from what we call 'Insanity.'" He added, "She just went out last night and said goodbye to her children and to be called 3 hours later that she has been hit by 2 gunshots and later pronounced dead." Strangers, family and friends alike have already donated more than $30 thousand.
Another son, Robert Vinnie Pressley, added in a post on Facebook, "She passed away doing what she loved, supporting her kids and having fun with her kids. She wasn't supposed to make it, she had cancer, she was a fighter. My mom was a fighter. They told her she wasn't supposed to live eight years ago."
Pressley continued, "She wouldn't want you guys to be sad, she'd want you to be happy. Celebrating her."
McCool was known as a vibrant, loving person, who loved to dance and was a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights and the LGBTQ community.
(Photo from top: Andrew Burton/Getty Images, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool via Facebook)