Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld is loud and proud about LGBTQ Pride

By : Jeremy Williams
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A lot of stereotypes exist around the LGBTQ community and sports. Gay men don’t like them, lesbians are in love with them and the people behind the teams would rather not have anything to do with the community. Enter Brian Auld and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Auld has been with the Rays for 12 years and has been the team’s president since 2014, and, in his time at Tropicana Field, nothing else has been engrained into the Rays more than the inclusion of the entire community: inclusion of women, minority groups and the LGBTQ community.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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Solar Bears to launch season with Pride Night Pulse benefit

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – The Orlando sports world continues to rally around those affected – directly and indirectly – by the June 12 massacre at Pulse Orlando that left 49 dead and 53 wounded. Though much of the spotlight has rested upon Orlando City Soccer Club through Orlando’s darkest summer (the soccer league hosted a Pride-themed event on Oct. 2), all of the area’s sports teams have been present in some manner, fundraising and raising awareness for the needs of victims and responders alike. Orlando’s hockey team, the Solar Bears, will lend a hand and some cash when it launches its season on Oct. 22.

“Right away, we jumped on board with Orlando City Soccer, the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Predators to do the T-Shirts as fundraising efforts,” Solar Bears chief financial and legal officer Chris Heller says. “Shortly thereafter, we were trying to figure out how else we could recognize and support with our season being so far away.”

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OneOrlando Fund to begin payments, totaling $29.5M

By : Staff and Wire Report
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ORLANDO – A fund for the victims of the Pulse shooting is set to pay out about $29.5 million to 299 claimants.

A news release from the OneOrlando Fund says its board unanimously approved the final distribution plan Sept. 26. Claimants were separated into four categories: deceased, injured with hospitalization, injured with outpatient treatment and present inside Pulse.

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Orlando’s Overheard: Survivor tree, Headdress Ball and the OneOrlando Fund

By : Anonymous
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Tree of life

The healing process after a loss is much like a tree: It’s fragile at the start, but with tender care, eventually the roots will take hold, allowing the tree the opportunity to grow, to weather storms and thrive. This is why, when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, due to terrorist attacks, the care that came for one lonely surviving pear tree became a thing. Now, standing tall at the WTC memorial plaza and proudly flourishing, this tree became a symbol of hope and healing for many. Which is why, the Survivor Tree Seedling Program came about. Each year the 9/11 Memorial gives seedlings to three communities that have endured tragedies in recent years.

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Orlando charities learn from prior mass killings mistakes

By : Wire Report
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – In the days after the June 12 attack on the Pulse nightclub, other victims of mass shootings reached out to the survivors and their families to ensure that mistakes made with charity efforts after previous attacks were not repeated.

Anita Busch, whose cousin Micayla Medek was killed with 11 others in a Denver-area theater attack in 2012, said those families had to scrape and claw and still wait months for help.

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OneOrlando Fund to host town hall meetings

By : Nicole Dudenhoefer
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Organizers of the OneOrlando Fund will hold a town hall meetings on August 4 at the Amway Center.

The meetings will be held to discuss how the funds will be distributed to the survivors and victims’ families. Fund organizers are looking for feedback and input from the community about disbursement.

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Downtown South businesses must make dollars out of senseless Pulse shooting

By : Nicole Dudenhoefer
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Orlando – About a month and a half after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Orlando is still tending to the emotional scars left behind by the tragedy. As the community tries to pick up the pieces, the financial struggles resulting from the June 12 massacre must also be battled.

While millions of dollars have been donated to numerous funds to help support the victims and their families, along with Pulse staff members who have been affected by the shooting, there is another group of people who may be in need of some financial relief as well: the businesses impacted by the Downtown South closure.

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Pulse of Orlando distributes $28,000 to Pulse employees

By : Jamie Hyman
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Heal Orlando, a task force of LGBT leaders in Orlando, is pointing donors toward just two funds: OneOrlando and Pulse of Orlando. Pulse of Orlando is a 501c3 endorsed by Pulse with the goal of filling any gaps in financial needs for Pulse staff and others affected by the shooting.

PulseofOrlandoFunds

Ali Benitez (left) and Sharlie Reynolds screen evaluations from employees for Pulse of Orlando funds June 30. Photo by Jamie Hyman.

On June 30, Aly Benitez, Pulse of Orlando board president, and Sharlie Reynolds, treasurer, distributed $28,500 to 38 Pulse employees. The recipients were vetted through an application process and funds distributed on an as-needed basis.

“We don’t have some of those same barriers that the city would have with the OneOrlando fund,” Benitez says. “We can expeditiously allocate those funds to the people who need it quickly.”

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Ahead of tonight’s Pulse benefit concert, 4 questions for Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons

By : Anna M. Johnson
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imagine dragonsWayne Sermon is the guitarist of the band “Imagine Dragons,” who will be playing in a benefit concert at the Hard Rock Live with Nate Ruess and Samantha Ronson for the OneOrlando Fund. Watermark editor Billy Manes, along with Joey Fatone (among others), will emcee the event, which starts at 8:30 p.m.

Sermon took a few minutes to answer four questions from Watermark.

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Orlando City Soccer to dedicate Saturday match to shooting victims

By : Alex Storer
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OCSLogoOrlando City Soccer, along with the #OrlandoUnited campaign, dedicated the June 18 game to the victims of the Pulse tragedy.

A commemorative section of Camping World Stadium will be blocked off with an individual seat dedicated to each victim. Shirts and posters with the phrase #OrlandoUnited on them will be sold benefiting the One Orlando fund.

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