AHF’s 2017 Rose Parade® Float to Honor Victims, Survivors and Families of Orlando Nightclub Attack: ‘To Honor and Remember Orlando’

In the wake of the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in June
that left 49 dead and scores injured, AHF is dedicating its entry in the
128
th Rose Parade® presented by Honda to honor
the memory of those lost to the senseless violence as well as survivors,
families and loved ones. Three survivors of the attack, the owner of the
club and community members involved in the recovery and healing efforts
in Orlando will ride on the float.

AHF’s float features an enormous floral dove flying over a memorial
field of 49-white stars hovering over a floral garden, honoring those
killed during the shooting. At the back, a ‘Tree of Life’ with notes of
condolence and hope taken from the communal Orlando Pride Board ties the
float back directly to the Orlando and LGBTQ community. In special
tribute, 49 white doves will be released from the float.

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–For the sixth year in a row, AIDS
Healthcare Foundation
(AHF) in partnership with its affiliated
organization, Impulse
Group United
, will take part in the Rose
Parade
with a float this year that honors the memory of the 49
individuals lost to the violence in the senseless attack on the Pulse
Nightclub and LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida that left 49 dead and
scores injured. AHF decided to dedicate its entry in the 128th
Rose Parade® presented by Honda to honor those killed—as well as
survivors, families and loved ones—after the June attack. Three
survivors of the attack, the owner of the nightclub and several
community members involved in the recovery and healing efforts in
Orlando will ride on the float, which is titled, ‘To
Honor and Remember Orlando.’

In the days and months immediately following the attack on the ground in
Orlando, members of AHF’s ‘Impulse
Group Orlando,’
a chapter of AHF’s federation of Impulse Groups, worked
tirelessly in and with the community to honor the dead, provide for the
injured and work toward salving the wounded spirit and soul of Orlando.

The AHF/Impulse Group ‘To Honor and Remember
Orlando’
Float

AHF’s float features an enormous, soaring floral dove—its wings
outstretched, representing a dove of peace, leading the way for the
souls of those lost to continue to fly—flying over a memorial field of
49 white stars over a floral garden, honoring those killed during the
shooting. At the center of the float is a colorful floral rainbow, its
colors representing the diversity of the LGBTQ community targeted as
well as the entire community of Orlando and all communities in the
United States, while also symbolizing the humanity of all victims killed
or injured. At the back of the float, a ‘Tree of Life’ with notes of
condolence and hope taken from the communal Orlando Pride Board will tie
the float back directly to the Orlando community. And in a special and
certain to be moving tribute to those lost, 49 white doves will be
released from the float at two occasions during the parade.

Three survivors of the attack, Victor Baez Febo, Isaiah Henderson
and Jahqui Sevilla, whose boyfriend was killed in the attack,
will ride on the float. Other riders include Barbara Poma,
cofounder and owner of the club as well as four community members
involved in the recovery and healing efforts in Orlando: Patty Sheehan,
an openly gay Orlando City Commissioner, who has been a vocal and
passionate voice in the community and around the tragedy; Joel Morales,
an HIV testing counselor and lead case worker for many of the survivors
and families; and Corey Lyons and Gustavo Marrero, the
president and vice president, respectively, of Impulse Group Orlando,
both of whom played a significant role in the Orlando community after
the attack.

“It will be a privilege to take part in this Rose Parade float honoring
the dead, the wounded, the survivors and the family members left behind
after the Orlando tragedy; however, we must not lose sight of the fact
that this beautiful float also serves as a solemn and sacred reminder to
millions of parade viewers around the world that the stigma and
discrimination that led to this attack are not over—the fight goes on,
and we must be vigilant in speaking out and speaking out against such
bigotry, hatred and injustice,” said Impulse Group Orlando’s Corey
Lyons
.

Impulse to Use ‘Text to Donate’—ONELOVE (74121)
to Benefit Orlando Survivors & Families

As part of honoring and remembering the Orlando community with this Rose
Parade tribute float, the Impulse Group United and Impulse Group Orlando
are also taking this opportunity to raise funds and awareness for
charities and funds and make people aware of efforts help survivors and
victims’ families of the Orlando attack. The following is the easiest
way for people to contribute: Donors can text to #74121 and enter the
keyword ONELOVE to make a donation.

Number: 74121
Keyword: ONELOVE
Information: All donations made
to Impulse Orlando and AHF will directly serve the below organizations:

  1. onePULSE Foundation: onePULSE Foundation is Barbara Poma’s foundation
    aimed to provide financial assistance to the victims affected by the
    attack at Pulse Nightclub.
    One
    Pulse Foundation
    , Barbara Poma’s charity
  2. Contigo Fund: Contigo Fund is an effort to strengthen and network
    existing agencies and to identify and support grassroots efforts that
    advance the Latinx and LGBTQ causes and the intersection of these two
    communities in Central Florida.
    Contigo
    Fund
  3. Two Spirit Mental Health Services: Two Spirit is a local Orlando
    LGBTQ+ mental health organization prior, during, and after the attack
    on Pulse Nightclub. Two Spirit is where Central Florida’s gay,
    lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community who are on disability or
    without insurance can go to get mental health and other related
    services.
    Two
    Spirit Health Services, Inc
    .

The Impulse
Group
, a volunteer group of active gay men working in collaboration
with AHF whose purpose is to promote healthier lifestyles using modern
social approaches, often accomplishing this vision through breaking
social barriers in communities with such need, became a part of the gay
community of Orlando. Impulse Orlando provides engaging social events,
promoting regular HIV/STI testing and services to those most at risk.

Background on AHF and the Impulse Group’s 2017
Rose Parade Float

AHF’s unconventional theme for its Tournament of Roses’ Parade float
entry this year—a remembrance of, and tribute to those killed and
injured in the ‘Pulse’ nightclub shooting—sprang from the extraordinary,
compassionate community response to the unspeakably horrific attack, a
tragedy that killed 49 individuals and injured dozens more, many,
members of Orlando’s vibrant LGBTQ community. For AHF, the senseless
attack on ‘Pulse’ and the Orlando community opened a raw nerve, touching
both present day acquaintances and partners in Orlando as well as
spurring memories of stigma and discrimination from AHF’s earliest days
more than thirty years ago—stigma, discrimination and indifference that
ultimately served as catalyst for the creation and founding of AHF.

When AHF first began its mission of service to the community in 1987, it
provided hospice care to AIDS patients in Los Angeles, offering
compassionate end-stage care during the final days for thousands of men
and women—including many gay men—who, in the earliest days of the
epidemic, were often ostracized by their families and from large
segments of society once their illnesses and sexuality became known.

“When AHF first began contemplating themes for its Rose Parade float
entry, we felt a theme of remembrance and tribute in honor of those who
were killed or injured at ‘Pulse’—and in honor of the Orlando
community’s indomitable spirit and extraordinary, life-affirming
response toward overcoming the homophobic stigma and discrimination that
contributed to this attack—would be fitting for the Orlando community
and for AHF’s 2017 Tournament of Roses commemoration,” said Michael
Weinstein
, President of AHF. “In fact, the very name of the ‘Pulse’
nightclub is a tribute to someone lost to AIDS in earlier days of the
epidemic: club co-owner Barbara Poma’s brother, John.”

Pulse Nightclub

According to a Washington Post article published the day after the
shootings, the ‘Pulse’ nightclub owed, “…
its name and spirit to ‘loving brother’ who died from AIDS.”

In the article, Post reporter Katie Mettler, beautifully captured
the story of the loving tribute that Barbara Poma, a co-founder
of Pulse nightclub, offered to her older brother, John, who died from
AIDS in 1991 when there were no lifesaving antiretroviral AIDS
treatments available and an HIV diagnosis amounted to a death sentence.

Pulse opened a decade after John’s death and was named is his honor, as
Ms. Mettler wrote:

“Barbara co-founded a new nightclub in Orlando with her friend, Ron
Legler. Like the places where John first introduced her to his
community’s colorful life, her club would embody that energy. It would
have decor to make John proud and ‘an atmosphere that embraced the gay
lifestyle,’ according to its website.

Her club would be more than ‘just another gay club.’

And so all those who visited would know its purpose, Barbara and her
business partner named the venue Pulse.
‘For John’s heartbeat,’
the website says.”

A beacon in the GLBTQ community, the ‘Pulse’ nightclub opened its doors
to Impulse Group Orlando and was a key supporter of the cause, hosting
activations to promote both community engagement and free HIV testing on
site at ‘Pulse’ to disproportionately affected demographics. This past
March, three months before the shooting, Impulse Group Orlando partnered
with ‘Pulse’ to activate a first-of-its-kind HIV testing night geared
toward the Latino community. A video of that community event can be
viewed here.

AHF’s Rose Parade®
History

Fiesta
Floats
of Irwindale is envisioning and constructing AHF’s 2017 ‘To
Honor and Remember Orlando’ parade entry, as it did for AHF’s previous
five entries.

AHF’s five previous Rose Parade® entries include:

  • 2012: ‘Our Champion, a tribute to
    Elizabeth Taylor for her tireless advocacy and work in the fight
    against AIDS after her death in 2011. Earned the Tournament’s ‘Queen’s
    Trophy.’
  • 2013: ‘The Global Face of AIDS,’ a global salute
    to AHF patients and medical staff from around the world. Earned the
    Tournament’s ‘Queen’s Trophy.’
  • 2014: Love is the Best Protection,’ featured the
    same-sex wedding—a Tournament first—of Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair.
    Earned the Tournament’s ‘Isabella Coleman Trophy.’
  • 2015: ‘Protecting Global Health,’ honored Ebola
    First Responders, including two AHF doctors in Africa, Dr. Sheik
    Hummar Khan and Dr. John Taban Dada, who died of Ebola while caring
    for patients.
  • 2016: ‘A Girl’s World of Adventure,’ celebrated
    and sought to empower young girls the world over. Riders include five
    10 and 11 year-old girls—three of whom are HIV-positive—from around
    the US.

About AHF AIDS Healthcare
Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider
in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over
672,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter @aidshealthcare

About Impulse Group United: Impulse
Group was founded in February 2010 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Since then, Impulse rapidly expanded to include U.S. branches in
Orlando, Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Atlanta, NYC, Washington D.C., Dallas,
San Diego, San Francisco, as well as branches in Mexico, India,
Thailand, Cambodia, China, and Brazil.

About the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®

The Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts
America’s New Year Celebration® with the Rose Parade® presented
by Honda, the Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern
Mutual and a variety of accompanying events. 935 volunteer members of
the association will drive the success of 128th Rose Parade themed “Echoes
of Success,”
on Monday, January 2, 2017, followed by the
103rd Rose Bowl Game. For more information, visit www.tournamentofroses.com.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and
visit our blog at blog.tournamentofroses.com.

Contacts

AHF
Ged Kenslea
Senior Director,
Communications, AHF
+1.323.791.5526 [cell]
+1.323.308.1833
[work]
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
IMPULSE
GROUP/ORLANDO

Corey Lyons, President & Member of
AHF’s Board of Directors
+1.973.769.6144 [cell]
corey.lyons@impulsegrp.org
or
AHF
Southern Bureau

Imara Canady, Regional Director,
Communications and Community Engagement, Southern Bureau
+1.404.870.7789
[cell]
imara.Canady@aidshealth.org