This one was different however. I have never been to Pulse or even to Orlando that matter. I didn’t know anybody who was at the club that night nor had any real close connection to the event. However the more I learned about the events that unfolded. The people who were there and the victims that were so brutally assaulted by a coward I couldn’t help but put myself there and I cried. While I didn’t personally know those people, I felt a connection to them. LGBT brothers and sisters that only a year before we all fought and celebrated together when marriage equality was legalized in all 50 states, People that I felt the pain with after Mathew Shepherd’s death when I was younger. Here I was thousands of miles away in Colorado, crying over people I didn’t know but felt like family.
Swimming 100x100s while no easy effort certainly was a challenge. I had done it in the past, for myself but this was different. For the first time I was doing it for someone else. I pledged to swim 100m for every $1 raised on January 1st, 2017. Originally I wanted 100m for $100 raised but quickly realized that goal was not realistic. I was going to swim 10,000m and raise $1,000. Of course like any fundraising campaign on social media, most went ignored for the first month and slowly donations trickled in.
The day of the swim, I posted a video explaining what was about to happen and how the 100x100s would work. Within only a few minutes I started to see dozens of responses and shares. Suddenly people were donating like crazy and it seemed never-ending! In that day alone we raised over $400 and surpassed the $1000 goal by several hundred dollars! I guess this means it’s time to swim.
As the 100x100s continued, more and more people started quitting, too tired or exhausted to continue they weren’t going to make it to 10,000m but I was determined too. Despite being out of shape, I wasn’t doing it just for myself. The 49th 100 really gave me chills as 49 people were killed in the nightclub on that fateful night. That particular set of 10x100s we did fly and it felt appropriate. For swimming one of the most challenging strokes is the butterfly and swimming my 49th 100 as butterfly I pushed myself through using my passion and emotion to drive me forward. Reminding myself that no matter how this felt, it was nothing compared to what the victims have gone through. This was all about supporting the 49 beautiful souls, their family, friends and legacy.
If we continue to do our part and channel the very best within each of us toward creating a positive impact on the world, we can ensure that the 49 beautiful people we lost on that fateful day will not have died in vein. They will always be honored and remembered. Their legacy will live on as we create a better and safer world for all our LGBT family.