Guacathon celebrates the birthday of Parkland shooting victim

Ask Manuel Oliver to talk about his son, and his eyes light up as he talks about the person he describes as his best friend.“Great dude,” Manuel said of Joaquin Oliver. “Very smart, athletic. The whole package.”Then Manuel pauses for a bit.“I miss that guy a lot,” he said.Joaquin was one of the 17 people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.The confessed killer is currently on trial to determine if he will face the death penalty.And while Joaquin’s mother and Manuel’s wife, Patricia Oliver, has been at the trial and testified, Manuel has not stepped foot in the courthouse.“I’ve got to be honest with you and everyone,” Manuel said. “I don’t know if I can control myself.”Instead, Manuel has watched the trial online, always thinking about Joaquin.“We lost our son,” he said. “But we refuse to be the parents that don’t have a son anymore. We are Joaquin’s parents, and we represent him.”That’s why beginning Thursday, on Joaquin’s 22nd birthday, the Olivers are not having a moment of silence.They’re having a party instead.It will be hosted by Joaquin in a virtual world.“American society has not given us that safe environment, so we created it,” Manuel said. “How cool is that?”The party is called Guacathon, a tribute to Joaquin’s nickname, Guac.The Olivers have teamed up with the gaming platform Roblox to create a block party in the metaverse.“This is a place where you can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want,” Manuel said. “And you can enjoy the company of others.”The party includes all the things Guac loved, like street art, live music, and basketball.And an avatar of Guac will be on hand to host it all as they raise money for Change the Ref, the non-profit the Olivers founded to curb gun violence.“We are here for your kids,” Manuel said. “We cannot save our kid from gun violence, but we can save your kids.”

Ask Manuel Oliver to talk about his son, and his eyes light up as he talks about the person he describes as his best friend.

“Great dude,” Manuel said of Joaquin Oliver. “Very smart, athletic. The whole package.”

Then Manuel pauses for a bit.

“I miss that guy a lot,” he said.

Joaquin was one of the 17 people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The confessed killer is currently on trial to determine if he will face the death penalty.

And while Joaquin’s mother and Manuel’s wife, Patricia Oliver, has been at the trial and testified, Manuel has not stepped foot in the courthouse.

“I’ve got to be honest with you and everyone,” Manuel said. “I don’t know if I can control myself.”

Instead, Manuel has watched the trial online, always thinking about Joaquin.

“We lost our son,” he said. “But we refuse to be the parents that don’t have a son anymore. We are Joaquin’s parents, and we represent him.”

That’s why beginning Thursday, on Joaquin’s 22nd birthday, the Olivers are not having a moment of silence.

They’re having a party instead.

It will be hosted by Joaquin in a virtual world.

“American society has not given us that safe environment, so we created it,” Manuel said. “How cool is that?”

The party is called Guacathon, a tribute to Joaquin’s nickname, Guac.

The Olivers have teamed up with the gaming platform Roblox to create a block party in the metaverse.

“This is a place where you can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want,” Manuel said. “And you can enjoy the company of others.”

The party includes all the things Guac loved, like street art, live music, and basketball.

And an avatar of Guac will be on hand to host it all as they raise money for Change the Ref, the non-profit the Olivers founded to curb gun violence.

“We are here for your kids,” Manuel said. “We cannot save our kid from gun violence, but we can save your kids.”


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