Edgewater High School retires jersey number of Pulse victim Cory Connell

Hundreds of people gathered at Edgewater High School on Friday night for a tribute to one of the Pulse shooting victims.

Hundreds of people gathered at Edgewater High School on Friday night for a tribute to one of the Pulse shooting victims.

The school retired Cory Connell’s football jersey.

The 21-year-old, who would have turned 22 on Thursday, was one of the 49 people shot and killed in the nightclub on June 12.

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His mother, Tara Connell, said his birthday was tough, but the tribute made her even more thankful for the community’s support since her son died.

“I miss him every day. I miss him,” she said.

Cory’s girlfriend, Paula Blanco, was also shot, but survived. She said Cory risked his life to save hers and made sure she got out of the club as the gunman opened fire.

“We do have good days. We do have bad days. Obviously, this is an awesome day. He is looking down on us right now,” said Tara Connell.

Cory played for the team in high school, but on Friday, the school retired his jersey number, 81, in a ceremony during halftime and gave his family a framed jersey.

“He’s with us every day. He’s here now,” said Cory’s father, James Connell.

The Edgewater Eagles also debuted a patch with Cory’s initials.

The players will wear the patches for the entire season in his memory.

James Connell said he wished his son could have been there to see it.

“He’s touched these people in some kind of way and it’s just special to me. I wish I could have those two minutes back to hug him and tell him,” he said.

Volunteers sewed the patches on all 80 football jerseys.