One thing you can always count on when tremendous tragedies like the shooting in Orlando occur is that people will rise up and do wonderful things to support those in need.
For instance, Disney has donated $1 million to the Orlando Fund to help out those affected.
Mark Cuban is also donating $1 million to support the Dallas police in response to the shooting in Orlando.
JetBlue airlines is another one of those doing their part to help, providing free flights to relatives of the victims of the senseless act of violence.
And it was on one of those flights that the passengers on the plane did something that was truly wonderful.
A flight attendant on that plane, Kelly Davis Karas, shared a photo of one of the victims and told the story of how a plane full of strangers came together to shine some light into the life of a woman who had lost her grandson in the shooting.
Below is a picture of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo. Omar, as his friends and family called him, was a Latino man gunned down at an LGBTQ bar in Orlando last weekend. He was 20-years-old.
Today my dear friend Melinda and I had the sad privilege of attending to his grandmother on our flight as she made her journey to Orlando to join her family during this unspeakable time.
Knowing she was making this hard journey alone, JetBlue employees made sure to be at her side every step of the way. Melinda stood quietly by her wheelchair while we waited until it was time to board. Kellie, the gate agent, boarded with her and helped get her settled. Melinda and I gave her a blanket, a pillow, a box of tissues and water so she could be as comfortable as possible. She was understandably distraught, but met us with kindness and gentleness. And gratitude.
But here’s where our flight got truly inspiring. I had the idea to pass around a piece of paper to everyone on board and invite them to sign it for this grieving grandmother. I talked it over with Melinda and she started the process from the back of the plane. As we took beverage orders, we whispered a heads up about the plan as we went.
Halfway through, Melinda called me, “Kel, I think you should start another paper from the front. Folks are writing PARAGRAPHS.” So I did. Then we started one in the middle. Lastly, running out of time on our hour and fifteen minute flight, we handed out pieces of paper to everyone still waiting.
When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears.
When we landed, I made an announcement that the company had emailed to us earlier in the morning to use as an optional addition to our normal landing announcement, which states “JetBlue stands with Orlando.” Then with her permission and at the request of a couple of passengers, we offered a moment of silence in Omar’s memory.
As we deplaned, EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES. Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process.
I am moved to tears yet again as I struggle to put our experience into words. In spite of a few hateful, broken human beings in this world who can all too easily legally get their hands on mass assault weapons – people ARE kind. People DO care. And through our customers’ humanity today, and through the generosity of this wonderful company I am so grateful to work for, I am hopeful that someday soon we can rally together to make the world a safer place for all.
I will never forget today. #Orlandoproud
While grand gestures like those of Disney, Cuban and JetBlue are tremendous, and they are, this just goes to show that sometimes the little things can also mean a lot.