After surviving the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 this past June, Tony Marrero looked to Katy Perry's music for comfort.
And during his recent appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Marrero finally got to tell the pop singer in person how much he's helped her following the tragedy. While talking to DeGeneres of the impact her song "Rise" made during his recovery process, Perry--tears in her eyes--walked out onstage to surprise Marrero.
The two then shared an emotional hug, before Perry told Marrero, "I don't know how I'm going to get through this. Your story is so inspirational."
Marrero attended Pulse nightclub the evening of the shooting with his best friend and co-worker, 22-year-old Luis Vielma. While Vielma did not survive, doctors considered Marrero's survival a miracle because, despite being shot four times in the back and once in the arm, none of the bullets hit any vital organs or his spinal cord. Recounting the heartbreaking event to Ellen, Marrero also shared that he had "died" on the way to the hospital.
"I just want to say thank you for everything you do. Your lyrics to that song helped me from the day that I was in the hospital all the way to now. You're amazing," Marrero told Perry.
But a surprise visit wasn't all the 31-year-old had in store for her fan, telling Marrero, "I heard that you're creative just like me and you have dreams and you want to go out there and do good and fulfill them."
She continued, "I heard that you want to go to film school, so I personally want to pay for your first year at film school."
In addition to the gesture, DeGeneres gifted Marrero with a private screening of "Finding Dory" and donated $25,000 to the foundation benefiting Pulse victims via Shutterfly.