PULSE Foundation Will Honor Victims and 5th Anniversary this June

Pulse Orlando – August 2019 (writer’s photo)

Most of us in South Florida, across the nation and world remember where we were when we heard the news of the awful attack on the Pulse bar in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. I actually had the honor of visiting the bar a year and a half ago and the emotions were still there in me and in that space (Travel Thursday: Pulse Interim Memorial Pulls At Your Heart And Revives Some Tough Emotions).  We will never forget what happened almost 5 years ago and we should never forget what happened there and the lives we lost. 

A new year has been met with renewed optimism and a fresh lineup of activity and momentum for the onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit established by Pulse owner Barbara Poma. she also serves as its executive director.  onePULSE plans on marking the fifth anniversary of the tragedy this June with a hybrid of in-person and virtual events from June 5 to June 12. An annual run will kick off the week and a remembrance ceremony will close it out.


“We know how to do on-site events but now also how to get the world to see it,” Scott Bowman, the group’s chief communications and government relations officer said. 

Building A Memorial

Poma said the search for a construction management firm to build the National Pulse Memorial & Museum with a one-third of a mile path between the two — the Orlando Health Survivors Walk — began Feb. 1.

The museum and memorial are located near each other but on opposite sides of the street. The memorial will be at the site of the Pulse nightclub, located at 1912 S. Orange Ave., with the museum and education center located at 438 W Kaley Street.


A list of firms will be narrowed down to about six and then a final selection will happen by the end of May. Poma said the first phase of the walk is expected to break ground this spring, with the memorial done this winter and the museum completed by early 2022.

Ricky Martin Joins the Cause

Ricky Martin Became The First Spokesperson For onePULSE — a two-year stint where Martin will do public service announcements, social media outreach, voiceover work for the museum, and Poma hopes to get him to attend an event or two down the road.

“We are thrilled to have one of the best-selling international music artists of all time join our Pulse family,” Earl Crittenden, foundation chair said in a statement. “His global platform allows us to share our mission with even more audiences, ensuring Pulse’s legacy of love lives on forever.”


Martin, who recently visited the Pulse Memorial, said in a statement that the campaign was “the perfect way” to launch a partnership. “I ask everyone to join our movement, commit to change and share the love,” he said.

The “Outlove Hate” campaign was started on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 of this year. It’s a push to get one million people to donate $49 each in order to raise $49 million. The $49 donation buys a place on the “Face of Change” digital mural and on a permanent mosaic at the museum.

“To have a name on the wall would usually require a huge donation,” Poma said. “We wanted everyone to have an opportunity to be part of the museum forever.”

Organizers are encouraging those who want to be involved in the campaign to start by uploading a selfie to outlovehate.com. The site then guides participants through a series of steps to choose a special color filter for the selfie and share it on social media channels.


onePULSE Academy Launched

The foundation also started its onePULSE Academy on Feb. 17 — the group’s educational arm. It began with a virtual screening of the film “90 Days” followed by a conversation series. “The purpose is to have conversations and realize that we’re all more alike than we are different,” Poma said. There are three more virtual film screenings scheduled (one per quarter) with accompanying conversations and panel discussions.

“We are thrilled to partner nationally with these amazing writers and directors to showcase their important work and to have courageous conversations,” Dr. Earl Mowatt, vice president of education at onePULSE said.

Mowatt is overseeing other aspects of educational programming as well, including the development of a K-12 curriculum. The three remaining screenings are “Disarm Hate” (editor’s cut) on May 19; “From Selma to Stonewall: Are We There Yet?” on Aug. 18; and “Disarm Hate” (full documentary with cast panel — possible in-person event) on Nov. 17.


Legacy Scholarships

The application period for the second class of Legacy Scholarship recipients ended in January. More than $330,000 will be distributed to 49 recipients, representing the Pulse shooting’s 49 victims. Poma said 152 people sent in completed applications, representing 26 states and 78 educational institutions of all levels. “The class is incredible and quite diverse,” she said.

The applications now go through a committee and selection process. The second class of recipients will be announced at the end of April. 

For more information on film screening descriptions and all other events, head to onepulsefoundation.org.

A majority of the article was reprinted with permission of SoutnFloridaGayNews.com

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