ORLANDO, Fla. (WTXF/WOFL) - The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is dedicating its entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade to victims and survivors of the Pulse Orlando Nightclub, including Philadelphia's.
Survivor Victor Baez, along with two other survivors, will ride on the float with Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan. At two points during the parade, 49 white doves will be released from the float to honor the 49 lives lost.
Victim advocate Joel Morales has worked closely with survivors. He says the dove release will provide healing. He and Baez add that they are ready to move on from the massacre that happened in June.
"This is going to be a really good honor to those directly impacted and for the world to know that we are Orlando strong," Morales said.
"The world needs to see what us survives and families are doing to move on to get through this and move forward," adds Baez. "We have to let go and forgive in order to be free."
Philadelphia student athlete Akyra Murray, 18, who'd just graduated from West Catholic Prep High School, was among the victims. She'd even signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Mercyhurst College and play basketball on a full athletic scholarship.
Her friend, FOX 29 intern Patience Carter, survived the Pulse nightclub massacre. She was shot in her leg and described her ordeal.
Carter was also on vacation in Orlando with her best friend, Tiara Parker, who was Murray's cousin.
When the shooting started, Akyra and Patience made it out. They went back inside to find Parker when they were trapped in the bathroom with the shooter.
The Rose Parade will be held on Monday morning in Pasadena, California.