One year ago today, 49 people were killed when a gunmen opened fire at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando. Today, the Walt Disney World Resort honored their memory and observed #OrlandoUnitedDay by looking back at the community came together after the tragic event:
Additionally, Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis penned a letter to Cast Members today that read:
Twelve months have now passed since the tragedy of June 12th, 2016 when 49 innocent people’s lives ended suddenly in a senseless and tragic night downtown. Many of us knew one or more of those who were lost. One was a member of our own family – a Disney Cast Member.
It was one of those weekends when you remember vividly what you were doing when the news hit. Even now, I recall the devastation I felt as the enormity of the situation settled in. In the space of 24 hours, 49 beautiful lives ended, and there was nothing anyone could do to reverse that fact. It was the end of those lives, and it felt like the end of hope.
Then, from the ashes of that tragedy, something wonderful and beautiful arose. An entire region rose to wrap its arms around the friends, family and community of those who were lost. We reached out to and cared for them. Here at Disney, in addition to making a major contribution to a fund for those injured, we provided meals for first responders working the crime scenes and, later, offered first responders a day at our parks as respite for them and their families. Our Cast attended funerals – oftentimes for individuals whom they had never met while they were living – and sent thousands upon thousands of cards expressing sympathy and support. Our colleagues in The Walt Disney Company, across the nation and around the world, reached out in empathy. And we were not alone – all of Central Florida reacted to ugliness and hate with beauty and compassion and with love.
Recently I was asked to join the board of onePULSE foundation, a charitable organization that will create a memorial to those who were lost. I accepted gladly. To me, it is a way of remembering when we came through the worst that could possibly happen, and responded by being the best we could possibly be.
Parks and Resort chairman BobChapek also wrote Cast Members, saying:
Across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we make magic for our Guests every single day. That magic becomes even more important both for our Guests and our Cast during trying and difficult times. And I’m proud and humbled by the way our global Disney Parks family rallies together in times of need.
As we remember the senseless tragedy that happened one year ago at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I want to again express my gratitude to our Cast Members at Walt Disney World for the ways they came together in support of each other and the wider-Central Florida community. And—for many—your constant professionalism and unbelievable compassion continued in the face of personal heartache and sadness.
While it may be impossible to ever fully understand tragedies like this, I am heartened that across WDPR—both inside and beyond the berm—we have built truly amazing communities filled with caring and dedicated individuals.
You make me proud to be part of this fantastic Disney family, and I’m humbled to stand in solidarity with each of you as we remember this tragedy and honor the lives that were lost.
Walt Disney World is just one of many business and organizations observing Orlando United Day today. Local news station WESH has coverage of other events that took place throughout the day.