Healing Hearts, Helping Hands
BY PAUL SCHINDLER | The American Red Cross in Greater New York, at its annual Heroes Among Us gala last week, honored three employees of Orlando’s LGBT Pulse Nightclub who “demonstrated extraordinary courage and selflessness” in helping patrons escape harm as a gunman killed 49 and wounded more than 50 others in an early morning rampage on June 12.
Neema Bahrami, Brian Reagan, and Neal Whittleton were among those recognized at the group’s October 5 event at the American Museum of Natural History.
“While witnessing unspeakable horrors, all three men demonstrated strength and clear thinking in the most frightening of circumstances,” the Red Cross said in a written statement. “In the weeks following the massacre, these heroes’ resiliency and determination have provided inspiration to others as they, their coworkers, and the Orlando community work to heal and keep Pulse alive.”
Since the tragedy, Bahrami has created a charity with his young neighbors called “Hang Your Heart,” which encourages tolerance and acceptance to school age children. Regan has worked on creating programming across Orlando as well as mentoring and shepherding Pulse employees on their road to recovery from the trauma. Whittleton, who was instrumental in guiding patrons out of the building and leading the police to the shooter, Omar Mateen, continues his work in guarding the empty nightclub building and the nearby memorial.
The three men, earlier in the day on October 5, visited the Red Cross’ New York headquarters, where they were joined by Josh Lockwood, the CEO of American Red Cross in Greater New York, in a panel discussion about bringing hope to a community in tragedy’s wake.
Lockwood, who traveled to Orlando immediately after the deadly shootings, said, “I felt a personal connection to the Orlando community and join them in their efforts to rebuild. Our honorees have showed incredible leadership and determination to inspire hope and healing not just through their own tragedy, but to the nation.”