As Brandon Taylor scrolled down the list of those killed in the Parkland shooting last Wednesday, he didn’t expect to see the name of a 15-year-old student he used to tutor.
Taylor, 20, a UF computer science engineering sophomore, tutored then 10-year-old Peter Wang at the Kumon Math and Reading Center in Coral Springs, Florida.
“He was just one of the happiest kids ever,” Taylor said. “He was there learning stuff beyond his years. He couldn’t be happier about it.”
Wang, 15, died as he held the door open for his fellow students to escape, according to the New York Times. The violence was too close to home for Taylor, who is determined to have his voice heard. He is one of 20 UF students organizing a bus trip for students to attend the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C., a national march to pressure government officials to enact gun reform and to support victims, on March 24.
“In the past, everybody knew about it, but nothing happened,” he said. "Now everybody knows about it, and everybody will have to listen.”
Taylor is raising money for the buses needed to make the trip on GoFundMe. His goal is $15,000, and he already raised more than $2,700 in a day.
Any extra money will be donated to the Broward Education Foundation’s GoFundMe campaign to raise money for victims and their families, Taylor said.
Jaimie Ivers, 20, a UF public relations sophomore, posted on the UF Class of 2020 Facebook page asking students if they were interested in a bus trip from UF to D.C. The group is also looking into organizing a march in Gainesville on March 24, she said.
The post received more than 300 likes and 150 comments from students interested in both hosting a march in Gainesville and traveling to D.C. She said more than 500 students on four UF student Facebook pages have shown interest in the ideas.
“I wanted to bring UF to help support Parkland and help end gun violence in America,” she said. “Parkland really should be the last mass shooting.”
The tragedy also mobilized her roommate Julia Tiplea, 19, a UF marine science sophomore.
She said the outpour of national support encourages her to make it to the march and seek justice for gun violence victims.
“It makes me feel good to know that people around the country, like strangers I don’t even know, are donating to our cause just to get UF students to march for our rights,” Tiplea said.
Tiplea knows the reality of mass shootings too well. Her friend, 20-year-old Quinton Robbins, was the second youngest victim during last year’s Las Vegas shooting. Not even a year later, her 15-year-old brother, Luke, a Stoneman Douglas sophomore, hid in a closet for more than three hours before leaving the school.
The Stoneman Douglas students who organized the #NeverAgain movement against gun violence give her hope for the future.
“Young people are powerful, and we shouldn’t be discredited just because we’re young,” she said.