ORLANDO, Fla. – June is Pride Month, and there are plenty of events happening across Central Florida to celebrate.
For the past 6 years, the onePULSE Foundation has hosted an annual race to honor those who died in the Pulse nightclub tragedy. More than 2,000 people came out to the 7th annual CommUNITY Rainbow Run Saturday morning, benefiting the onePULSE Foundation and the National Pulse memorial and museum.
Luiz Nunez told News 6 he wanted to be a part and to show solidarity at a time where he said not everyone feels welcome.
“To support Pulse, remember the 49 and have a good run,” Nunez said. “Just mixed politics and all that’s happening across the country, and in Florida it’s happening in particular, I figure we show up in a large amount, we’re still here.”
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Many people at the run said unity now is more important than ever.
“I’m an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m here to run in honor of those we lost in 2016,” said participant Sarah Swisher.
Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan also took part.
“I’m glad to see there’s so much support years later. I think it just shows what a loving, decent community we are, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can work together to get something built,” Sheehan said.
This comes after onePULSE Foundation announced back in April that Barbara Poma, its founder, stepped down.
The foundation said a month later that the National Pulse Memorial would have to be built on a different site after onePULSE was unable to reach an agreement with Poma and associates for the donation of the nightclub property.
Deborah Bowie is the new executive director of the onePULSE Foundation and said it’s in the midst of a lot of changes, but all options are being weighed.
“It’s a very important project - the memorial is. So, we want to be sure that as we explore our options, (that) we’ve included the community. We have several alternative sites to consider because we cannot build on the existing nightclub property,” Bowie said. “We just have a lot of work to do in understanding what the community’s wishes are.”
Meantime, News 6 got the following statement from the Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum (CCAPM) regarding the onePULSE Foundation’s intent to make the museum and community space a reality:
The OnePULSE Foundation has wasted millions in tourism tax dollars to design and develop a memorial-museum campus that will now never be built. The Foundation has not fulfilled its promise to victims/survivors or to our community and can not be trusted with spending any additional public funds. Instead of helping survivors with direct financial assistance, the Foundation’s leaders thought it best for executive salaries to be the Foundation’s largest annual expense. A public memorial park that is not owned by a private nonprofit is the right path forward. Mass shootings should never be used to promote tourism, for personal enrichment, or to advance local nonprofits at the expense of those directly impacted.CCAPM
A representative of Poma’s provided News 6 with her own statement, following a news conference hosted last month by mothers of Pulse victims.
Since that tragic night at Pulse Nightclub my time has been focused on remembering and honoring the 49 angels whose lives were taken and their surviving families as they navigate unimaginable grief. It has been an uncharted path for everyone. Out of respect to those impacted by this tragedy, I have never responded to the handful of individuals who continue to spread a myriad of untruths about my husband and me, falsely blaming us for what was an unforeseeable terrorist attack. These individuals continue to speak untruthfully about us, and as always, without any knowledge or facts. The decisions we have made related to the onePULSE Foundation have been difficult and personal. While I recognize and respect these individuals’ grief, that should not serve as a free pass for intentionally spreading lies about us. It is hurtful, undeserved and helps no one.Barbara Poma
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