Samantha Fuentes was amongst the injured in the Parkland tragedy, and while fortunate to be alive, her body and life changed forever. She has bullet shrapnel permanently embedded in her legs and behind her right eye, and currently manages symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She lost revered friends and faculty members. Despite these tragic events, today, Samantha is resolved and committed to a poignant mission: to make sure that no child or adult is devastated by senseless and preventable gun violence ever again.
Samantha’s passion for this cause is focused and strong. Every day she spreads her message by sharing her personal story, which starts well before facing down the barrel of an AR-15. Her single mother who battled alcoholism raised Samantha in a trailer park in Davie, FL; her father was absent. She was unpopular with the neighborhood kids, frequently bullied, humiliated, and endured racist attacks. And, there was no respite for Samantha at home, as her stepfather was physically and verbally violent. The frailty of her relationships and lack of a positive male parental figure skewed her idea of healthy relationships. In her early teens, she found herself in emotionally and physically abusive relationships. At fifteen, she attempted suicide after moving from Davie to Coral Springs, FL, shortly after her transfer to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Though her life had become much happier and stable after that point, looking back, Samantha wishes she had the courage to stand up for herself and ask for help with her struggles. This is what drives her today.
Samantha Fuentes is a survivor. She now works closely with Angel Faces, an organization that serves girls who have endured all types of trauma. Many of the girls have been injured at the hands of someone else; car accidents, dog attacks and acid attacks. Samantha came to Angel Faces fragile, scared and exhausted. Giving her a place to exhale from her highly charged traumatic event, she found bravery and self love. Her life experiences have tasked her to champion the importance of human rights and equality — being a victim of gun violence only further bolsters her purpose. Her perspective is straightforward: to uplift the voices of the silenced, and remind us that ALL our experiences matter regardless of color, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Samantha wants to rally bystanders to participate in change when they witness injustice, because anything is possible in numbers. Even if the odds are low and risks are high, if Samantha still has a powerful voice, anyone can find and use theirs!