COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Nearly a month after the mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs, Atrevida Beer Company hosted a fundraiser that celebrated the life of one of the five people killed that night.
Rich and Jess Fierro are the owners of the brewery, and Rich is one of the people who stopped the gunman and saved countless lives inside the nightclub during the last few minutes of Nov. 19. The Fierros were at Club Q with their daughter Kassandra, and her boyfriend Raymond Green Vance.
The fundraiser on Saturday brought together friends, family, and total strangers. It was the kind of celebration Adriana Vance believed her son would have loved.
“He was just an overall good kid. He didn't give me any trouble, and he was such a comedian," Adriana said while at Atrevida. “He was the light that is shining so bright. He was just a kind soul.”
Raymond would have turned 23 in January. His mother said she moved the family from Chicago to Colorado when Raymond was a baby. He attended Horizon Middle School and graduated from Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs.
MORE | How you can help the victims
Adriana said Raymond and Kassandra had known each other since middle school and began dating once they were in high school.
"He loved him some Kassy," Adriana laughed. “Kassy’s parents, you know, they took Raymond in like a son.”
On the last night Adriana saw her son, he was on his way to spend time with his beloved Kassy.
“I just remember him coming into my room because he had put on his outfit for the night. And he came in and said, 'Mom, how do I look?' And I said, 'You look good,'" Adriana remembered. "And then he said that he will see me later.”
Later that night, Adriana had the maternal instinct that something was wrong. Even after she read initial reports about the shooting, she was hopeful her son would come home.
“I was still thinking that he was going to come through the front door," said Adriana, who feels as though the shooting happened just yesterday.
Raymond never came home.
“[I'm] just heartbroken. I just have a hole in my heart. I feel like I have a hole in my soul that I don't know when it'll ever repair," Adriana said, trying to put her unexplainable grief into words.
MORE | Club Q shooting coverage
She still speaks to her son every day, knowing their love will never fade.
“I just tell him that I love him. And I'm sorry for what happened to him and that he'll never be forgotten," Adriana said. "He was my best friend, my best friend.”
Saturday night was focused on who Raymond was and the light he shared with the world, instead of the darkness that ripped him from the beautiful bonds formed in life. Those bonds, and that love, far overshadowed the hatred seen in Club Q that November night.
“We are here celebrating him. We are never going to forget him, and we're going to keep his name alive," Adriana said, with the look of a mother on a mission.
Adriana sold shirts during the fundraiser in honor of Raymond, and all of the proceeds from food sales were donated to the family.
Adriana continues to press forward for her younger son and to ensure the goodness Raymond embodied is spread far and wide.
“Just be kind to one another," said Adriana, explaining how anyone can live like Raymond. "Because you never know what people are going through mentally, or emotionally. So sometimes, just being kind or saying something nice to somebody can go a long way."