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  • Click to view MariahLeeP's profile
    Posted July 23, 2012 by
    Clinton, Connecticut
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Remembering theater shooting victims

    Matt McQuinn, Seize the Day


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     As people struggle to cope with the heartbreaking aftermath of the violent tragedy that struck Aurora, some have sought comfort in celebrating the lives of the victims in love and remembrance. MariahLeeP, who lost her friend Matt McQuinn to the shooting is one of them. And for a moment during such a somber time, there is a tender breath of color when she describes the kind of friend, brother, boyfriend and son he was. "Right when meeting him, you knew he was a genuine and unique person. He laughed all the time and he was always happy and smiling," she says. "I will miss his laugh, it was so funny. He always listened if you had a problem or just needed to talk. Matt was a great friend, he would have done anything for anyone."

    And for his girlfriend Sam Yowler and her brother, McQuinn would end up sacrificing his life to shield them from the bullets. "I think a lot of people can say they'd take a bullet for someone, but no one really knows what they would do in a situation like this," MariahLeeP says. "Matt is a true hero, I am so proud to have had such a heroic friend. He dove in front of his girlfriend and her brother to shield them and that is amazing. It is a true testament of how powerful his love for Sam is."

    MariahLeeP expresses that Matt will be missed by many, but his memory will be kept alive by all that knew and loved him. When she reflects on her friendship with him, she recalls that they were always laughing. "This kid was hilarious. We shared a love of the band Avenged Sevenfold, I remember one night he called me at like one in the morning to tell me there was a special on them on TV and I was so mad when he woke me up. We ended up on the phone for an hour watching them perform and interview. You just couldn't get mad at him, he always meant well," she says. "I wish I could tell him just how proud of him I am and that I feel so honored to have known him and to have had him as a friend. Matt came into my work to say bye just before Sam and him moved to Colorado last summer. I am glad I got to give him a hug and say bye and good luck."
    - Anika3, CNN iReport producer

    (Photograph: Sam Yowler giving her boyfriend Matt McQuinn a sweet kiss on the cheek)

    Matt McQuinn was one of the kindest and most genuine friends anyone could ask for. He would have done anything for anyone. I am still in shock, but not surprised that he died saving his girlfriend Sam. I remember when they first started dating and he brought her into my work for me to meet her. They had so much in common and were so in love immediately. Matt was always the first to volunteer as a DD at the bar I used to work at. He really was just a wonderful person in every way. He was a huge fan of Avenged Sevenfold, their song "Seize the Day" is exactly how he lived his life and exactly how he went. My thoughts, prayers, and tears go out to his girlfriend Sam, his mom, and the rest of his family and friends. I take comfort knowing that he did not die in vain because Sammy is still with us. Love you Matthew, we will never forget. http://www.giveforward.com/mattmcquinn

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