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Walt Disney World Diversity Resource Groups Commemorates One-Year Anniversary of Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Walt Disney Diversity Resource Groups (DRG) offered Cast Members an opportunity to commemorate and honor the lives of those lost in the Pulse Nightclub tragedy last summer during its “Remembrance of Love and Kindness” event at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World (WDW) on June 12, the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting.

At the tribute, more than 400 cast members came together as a community to show their support for one another as they continue to grieve and heal from the terror of that day.

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Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Springs and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney Sport Enterprises, kicked off the event by offering some words of compassion and encouraging cast to be there for one another and to continue to inspire hope and healing through acts of love and kindness not only today, but every day.

Other program presenters, including Adam Babington, vice president, external affairs, WDW Ambassador Brandon Peters, Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and various DRG leaders, shared messages that depicted how—in the face of tragedy—WDW Cast Members, the local community and the world responded with open hearts, open arms and caring support.

A gospel choir also performed at the event. The choir sang inspirational songs, including “When We Rise,” and they closed their set singing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” while a video of the 49 victims played on the screen behind them. The audience clapped along, swayed and some even danced in honor of the victims.

Following the tragedy last year, some of the mothers of the Pulse victims reached out to several local organizations to help get 49 churches to ring their church bells 49 times as a tribute to each of the 49 loved ones taken that day. In an effort to honor this request, several DRG Cast Members chimed a bell after reading each of the 49 victims’ names, which was then followed by a moment of silence.

In addition to the program, guests were invited to visit an expo-style area with representatives from various engagement and diversity groups, including DRG and the Employee Assistance Program. They could also visit the Corporate Citizenship table to create their very own Pride ribbons and “Thinking of You” cards for survivors, victims’ families and first responders.

As the remembrance came to an end, Nancy Gidusko, director of Corporate Citizenship, shared some touching words, while also talking about the Summer of Kindness campaign. This campaign, along with 49 Acts of Kindness organized by the One Orlando Alliance Organization, empowers the community to participate in acts of love and kindness not only on the anniversary of the Pulse tragedy, but every day in hopes of demonstrating the power of love, acceptance and inclusiveness in action.