Monday, October 10, 2016
The Abbey, (100 S Eola Dr #100, Orlando, FL) hosted a red carpet event benefiting the Pulse of Orlando Fund. The evening marked three months since the tragedy and focused on the positivity, love, and inspiration we have seen from around the World. The evening included a Silent Auction, sale of Original Art pieces from around the World, performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus, Evin, and featured performer Brandon Parsons, singer of the hit single "Forty-Nine Times." Pulse entertainment manager, Neema Bahrami, was the MC for the evening and Pulse owner Barbara Poma was also in attendance. This was a VIP red carpet event with limited tickets sold. 100% of the proceeds for the evening went to the Pulse of Orlando Fund, the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit currently distributing funds to victims.
When I arrived at the Abbey, the Angels were lining up outside to greet guests as they arrived. It was a grey dusk and as I started to sketch it started to drizzle. I ran for cover on the patio. Winds picked up and angel wings snapped briskly, sometimes in other angel's faces. Finally the light rain became a downpour and all the angels had to take cover. Some angels held their wings in place, while others let their wings flap. Duane Garrett in the bandanna and hat looked like a serious biker. That makes sense since Harley drivers are often some of the most charitable people you will meet. Duane introduced me to his wife Sunshine Garrett and she told me about how they have been wearing the wings to as many events as possible since day 1. The wings were finally abandoned to the costume racks. The elements had won, but only after a valiant effort. In tight quarters, the wings PVC supports would often get tangled. The best way to maneuver was stepping sideways. One woman stood in the rain alone despite being drenched. The wings must get heavy when wet.
Toward the end of the evening, Barbara Poma, Pulse employees and several survivors lined up on the stage. A woman at the end of the line began to cry and the person next to her put her arms around her. Who had she lost? I felt an incredible love and loss as the room filled with applause. Approximately $4000 was raised for the Pulse of Orlando Fund.