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'Just Noah': Uvalde survivor longs for normalcy, says his father

Uvalde survivor Noah Orona justs 'wants to feel normal again'
Uvalde survivor Noah Orona justs 'wants to feel normal again' 02:32

UVALDE ( – The morning of May 24, 2022, Noah Orona's mother captured some of the last moments he would spend with his classmates at an end of the year award ceremony.

"It's etched in our minds, in our hearts," said Oscar Orona, Noah's father.

Noah posed for pictures with his parents, then walked back to class.

"Right before he got to the door, he turned around and he waved and he smiled – and that was our last memory of our old Noah," said Oscar.

Noah survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School, but his father says he's different now.

"Very introverted now, kind of keeps to himself," he said.

It's the complete opposite of the boy he once was, his father told us.

"Before he would have been right here front and center, trying to hog the camera," said Oscar. "I tell anyone who'll listen that I would give anything to have my old Noah back."

Oscar remembers being reunited at the hospital.

"I just went straight to him, and I put my hand around him and kissed his forehead. And, I said 'You're the bravest person I know'. I said, 'You're my hero'. And I said, 'I love you'."

Noah had been shot in the shoulder and witnessed the deaths of his classmates, but he seemed oddly disconnected from it all.

"I'm thinking he's too quiet. He's showing no emotion whatsoever," said Oscar.

A year later, his son struggles with separation anxiety. And, if his parents want to enter his room, they have to prepare him.

"Now we have to basically announce ourselves," said Oscar. "He gets startled very easily."

Recently, though, Noah started playing basketball again.

"For just four quarters there was some normalcy to his life," said Oscar. He wasn't 'Noah Orona, survivor'. He was just Noah."

And though, Noah has had the chance this past year to meet Dallas Cowboys players, his favorite author, and other notable figures, what he wants more than anything, his father says, is just to be himself.

"That's what he wants. Just to be Noah," said Oscar.

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