How Three Children Healed The City Beautiful

How Three Children Healed The City Beautiful
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Orlando Pulse survivor, Neema Bahrami with Victoria & Jacquelyn of Hang A Heart

When September 11, 2001 became the day we all would never forget, our entire world shifted, forever. The way we traveled would never be the same again. Everyone remembered where they were when the planes hit the World Trade Center. I was working in Entertainment for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida. My management team called me and told me not to come into work, the theme parks were immediately closing for the day. It was all surreal. I was born and raised in New York for the first 29 years of my life. Then in 1995, Orlando became my second home. When the terrorist attack happened at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, that too hit me hard. Both places I called home, forever changed in my world.

When national tragedies hit, we are overwhelmed with emotions when others come to our rescue to help us heal and move on. Compassion felt from all over the world can heal one’s heart and have faith that there is still goodness in the world. It seems like every time you log onto Facebook, we are Praying for Boston, Praying for Paris, Praying for Orlando, Praying for Dallas….the list will unfortunately go on. But there is more than a mere post on Facebook that can give hope to a broken city, a broken country, a broken world: LOVE. I returned home to Orlando, as I did with New York back in 2001, to mourn with my friends. I brought along a few Hang A Hearts too! Though at times, the grief was unbearable, especially when I gave hearts to families of the victims, it was still a beautiful, healing trip, much needed for my soul. I wanted to be home to grieve with my friends, who are my family to me.

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Love heals all things, yet we never have enough of it. Anger and fear tend to push love aside, but I believe in seeking that love and keeping the faith that there is goodness in the world. After the Orlando terrorist attacks on June 12th that took 49 beautiful lives, the magical city was in its darkest of days.  Memorials decorated the City Beautiful and a somber energy sat above its skyline. However, in a town outside of Orlando, three young children, Gavin, Victoria and Jacquelyn, told their mom they wanted to somehow help Orlando feel better. They had a family meeting with their mom, Amanda and Hang A Heart was born. (Be sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram). It started out small, making little felt hearts and handing them out to locals, then word got out and the love was spreading all across Orlando! Where there was heartache, there were Hang A Hearts. Three children decided to help heal their beautiful city. It worked too!

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The love began to spread to the victims, the families of the victims, the police officers and others. The community needed these three young children and their message. Love heals. Love is love. Their Hang A Hearts were given out to all who needed one and Hang A Heart parties were happening across Orlando and even the nation! My pilot Holly and I made 75 and mailed them down to Orlando. People from other states helped out too.

Helping others with their grief helps us with our own and to somehow make sense out of the senseless in our world. When we don’t have the answers, we simply…love.

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Gavin, Victoria and Jacquelyn started a trail blaze of spreading love and their mission is to teach others to love and accept everyone. I emailed their mom, Amanda, sending her praise for what she and the children had done. “I cannot change the world…but I can teach my three children to love without prejudice,” she told me. What a beautiful reflection of what we all should be, that all parents should teach such love, acceptance and inclusion of all people. I was blessed and honored to work with Amanda in the Entertainment Department of Walt Disney World. That magic will live on in us forever. Amanda has passed that magic down to her children. The greatest legacy we can leave our children is to love.

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If you would like to know how to help spread love, contact Hang A Heart at their Facebook page. Amanda is turning this into a non-profit and hopes to encourage parents and children to work together with the love of heart making to spread love instead of fear in their communities. To raise children to love and respect everyone, and hang a heart when and wherever needed.

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Three young children, with hearts full of hope, set out on a mission to heal their city beautiful Orlando during its darkest time and to show the world, there is light and there is love. They are ‘children making a difference with love‘.

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