ORLANDO (FOX 13) - A heart wrenching custom that's become all too familiar: President Obama visiting a city grieving after a mass shooting. His trip to Orlando Thursday was the 15th such visit he’s made.
The president and Vice President Joe Biden laid wreaths at a memorial in downtown Orlando. The president then met with families of victims and survivors of Sunday’s attack at Pulse nightclub.
He told them, and the nation, how inspired he was by their courage and how moved he was by the community's response.
“Today we are reminded of what is good. That there is compassion and empathy and decency and most of all there is love. That's the Orlando we've seen in recent days and the America we have seen."
49 people died in the massacre Sunday morning. Patience Carter was not one of them. She survived was able to meet with the president Thursday.
Today is a 10.
Carter has spent the last several days in an Orlando hospital rating her pain for doctors.
“Today is a 10,” she said, using that same 1 through 10 scale to describe her emotions while meeting President Obama.
“The most powerful man in the possibly in the world coming around, shaking individual hands, and giving hugs is, like, ‘whoa!’ Carter told FOX 13 News.
Carter - a FOX Philadelphia intern - said the president's visit with the Pulse nightclub attack survivors and their families meant a chance to escape from the pain and begin the healing process.
She said he shook hands and shared hugs with each and every family who made it to the Amway Center in Orlando, where the president shared condolences with the victims and assured them he would do everything he could to prevent another attack.
“It was so comforting, having him. It didn't seem rehearsed. It didn't seem staged. It seemed like he truly cared about us and about our pain,” she said.
Carter came to Orlando on vacation with her best friend, Tiara Parker to celebrate the graduation of Parker's cousin, 18-year-old Akyra Murray. When the shooting started, Akyra and Patience made it out. They went back inside to find Parker when they were trapped in the bathroom with the shooter.
They credit Akyra for saving them.
All three were shot. Murray was killed.
Thursday, Carter said President Obama's visit allowed her to put guilt aside and smile again.
“It was the most amazing experience I have ever felt in my life. I would have never thought in a million years that I would have been in the same room with the president, let alone shaking his hand… giving him a hug. That was really big for me,” Carter said.