Laura Vargas only worked for the Miami Heat for about four months, but the team really stepped up to make a difference in her life and Vargas is grateful.
When a gunman entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, the tragedy changed Vargas' life forever.
"It makes me paranoid, to a certain point, and it also makes me appreciate the good times that I've had with friends and just the luxuries that we have," Vargas said.
Vargas underwent multiple surgeries for her two gunshot wounds and has been to countless doctors appointments over the last eight months, but a surprise from her former employer helped in a big way during a time when she needed it most.
"It's unbelievable, three, fours months I was there with them and I left an impact enough for them to reach out and be my family through this whole thing," Vargas said.
The Miami Heat Charitable Fund donated $15,000 to this local Pulse survivor. The organization also held a celebration for Vargas when she returned from Orlando in July, where they gave her an autographed jersey and a video from Dwyane Wade.
"The moment you join their team, literally, they treat you as a family member, they don't just forget about you, you're not just another employee," Vargas said.
"We had to do something," said Merdie Lane, the Heat's director of guest services.
Lane, Vargas' former boss in the Guest Services Department, led the initiative to get her the help she needed. The President of the Heat acknowledged Lane's unwavering support in an online letter about diversity.
"It was a team effort and being a part of the process was definitely something that I really enjoyed," Lane said.
Lane went above and beyond to help this member of the Heat family. She also secured lodging for Vargas at a hotel and even offered her and her partner a room in her own home.
"I hope it will ripple like a pebble in the water, and just spread abroad," Lane said.
In January, Merdie Lane won an award from the NBA, the "Values of the Game Award." The team also gave Vargas a basketball signed by all the players and other Heat gear.