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  • Writer's picturePulse Families and Survivors for Justice

LETTER: Please End Your Participation in Perpetuating the Community Rainbow Run

The following email was sent to the leadership at Orlando Health, leaders at the City of Orlando, and key sponsors of the Community Rainbow Run on May 21, 2024.

Dear Orlando Health; DeVos Business School Faculty, Administration, and Student Body; City of Orlando; and Community Run Sponsors,

We are the largest organized group of victims’ families and survivors of the mass shooting that occurred at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

We are writing to ask that you stop your participation in the Annual Community Rainbow Run and that you help ensure that there are no Community Rainbow Runs in the future.

We remind you that the Annual Community Rainbow Run was a crass fundraiser started by the dissolved and disgraced onePULSE Foundation used to turn the massacre into a tourist attraction and pay six-figure salaries to ineffective and undeserving nonprofit executives. 

Lacking any resemblance of empathy and ethics, the Community Rainbow Run promised to take joyous joggers, walkers, and runners on the same route that victims/survivors took down Orange Avenue when they ran for their lives and were evacuated from the Pulse Nightclub to Orlando Health.

Autopsy reports show that five victims taken to Orlando Health alive and who received hospital bands did not survive. According to medical professionals at George Washington University, four of them could have survived and a total of 12 additional victims could have also survived had they received proper medical treatment sooner. Medical records provided by Orlando Health to victims’ families have also left them with more questions than answers.

Like the onePULSE Foundation, the 3-hour long police response (where active shooter protocol was not followed) was also a total disgrace that resulted in a higher victim count and made the Pulse shooting the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the time.

As you should know, the discredited onePULSE Foundation dissolved in December 2023 after promising for eight years to build a memorial and help survivors. During this time, they did nothing other than lie to the public and waste millions of dollars in donations and taxpayer dollars.

Since the City of Orlando has taken over the Pulse Orlando memorial project and, lacking better judgment, has also decided to continue the crass Annual Community Rainbow Run—an event that has seen a continued decline in participation since its inception and will never bring in enough money to warrant its existence.

The Community Rainbow Run is being organized by the DeVos School of Sport Business Management at the University of Central Florida. Its Founder, Richard E. Lapchick, was also on the Board of the failed onePULSE Foundation. 

To see the DeVos family name repeatedly and publicly attached to an event that claims to honor murdered queer victims is duplicitous, unjust, and downright horrifying. This is because the DeVos family is known for shamelessly profiting off the Amway pyramid scheme and its abhorrent history advancing racism, homophobia, and political extremism in Florida and throughout the United States.

The Community Rainbow Run also continues to be sponsored and branded by Orlando Health. The private hospital network’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Communications—Andrew J. Snyder—also held a position on the Board of the dissolved and disgraced onePULSE Foundation prior to its dissolution. Snyder is also on the Board of another disgraced nonprofit, the Orlando Museum of Art, which is on the edge of bankruptcy following the Basquiat scandal and FBI investigation.

Snyder does not have a history of making the best decisions and Orlando Health should not impose the same ill decision-making on our family of victims and survivors, nor the larger Orlando community.

Furthermore, the Community Rainbow Run remains to be one of the last vestiges of the onePULSE Foundation and Barbara Poma—the straight white Pulse nightclub owner who was empowered by Orlando’s politicians and corporate leaders for years to exploit the murder of 49 members of the LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx communities.

One of the reasons we have always advocated for a public memorial is so that crass and exploitative fundraising efforts, like the Community Rainbow Run, would not have to exist. A public memorial should be funded by public funds and true philanthropy that does not seek to use donations as a means to unethically brand themselves off our grief and trauma.

The same holds true for any memorial and remembrance projects. It is downright vulgar that the Survivor’s Walk remembrance project has been branded the Orlando Health Survivor’s Walk

The mass murder that took place at the Pulse Nightclub is not a perpetual branding opportunity for Orlando Health, however, the City of Orlando is enabling yet another nonprofit to exploit mass shooting victims in this way.

We implore you:

Stop the branding, stop the crass fundraising schemes, and stop the Community Rainbow Run.  

Let’s move forward with a public Pulse memorial together and in a way that is sensible, ethical, compassionate, and just. 

With Love,

Pulse Families and Survivors for Justice

Letter for Community Rainbow Run
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