ORLANDO, FL – Boston Strong. Orlando Strong.
Scarred by acts of unimaginable terror, victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Orlando nightclub massacre are finding healing in unity.
Ten Boston survivors, wounded by two pressure-cooker bombs planted at the finish line of the marathon in 2013, are in Orlando this weekend to show support for those wounded when a gunman armed with an assault rifle stormed the Pulse nightclub June 12.
The bombing victims say they’re in Orlando to show that they survived, that they’re happy and that there is hope beyond the immediate darkness.
United by tragedy
“You are Orlando Strong, we are Boston Strong. We are family,” Sydney Corcoran told Angel Colon as he lay in his hospital bed Saturday at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Both have survived unthinkable horrors.
Corcoran learned to walk again after her femoral artery was severed and a hole was blown through her foot. Colon was shot three times by the gunman, who killed 49 people and wounded more than 50.
Sydney’s mother Celeste Corcoran, who lost both her legs in the explosion on Boston’s Boylston Street, said for her, these acts of terror have failed to breed fear and hatred.
“People who try and spread hate, it does the exact opposite. It brings together strangers, and we are more tolerant of people,” Celeste Corcoran said.
“There’s post-traumatic stress, and it helps to talk with someone who has been through similar situations,” she added.
From a hospital to a marathon
Rodney Sumter, who was shot three times inside the gay nightclub where he worked as a bartender, also received a bedside visit from Boston survivors and their service dogs.
When the gunshots rang out, Sumter attempted to flee, but he couldn’t escape the bullets and was shot once in each arm and once in his back — half an inch from his spine.
As Sumter embarks on his road to recovery, he says he now has his eyes on a visit to Boston.
Eliza Gedney, who was burned in the Boston attack, and Michelle L’Heureux, who was hit with shrapnel, told Sumter they ran the Boston Marathon together this year in solidarity.
They invited him to Boston for the marathon next April, to which Sumter replied, “I want to be there.”
Of the eight patients still hospitalized at Orlando Regional Medical Center, five are in stable condition and three are in critical condition. Surgeons at the hospital have performed 61 operations since the massacre.
The hospital received 44 patients from the Pulse shooting.
Pride parades honor Orlando
The trauma of America’s worst mass shooting inside a nightclub that stood as a pillar of freedom in the Orlando LGBT community was felt across the world.
Saturday’s visit to Orlando by bombing survivors coincides with the celebration of pride weekend across a number of major cities from New York to Manila.
The rainbow flags and vibrant parades stand as a symbolic rejection of discrimination and violence toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
The owner of Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma, spoke at New York City’s pride rally on Friday. She told the crowd of more than 4,000 that she wanted to attend the event “as part of the nation’s healing process and to honor the beautiful souls we lost and those who were injured, and those who escaped and survived that awful night.”