There’s No Gun Shots at Disney


Mickey and Minnie.

Valentine’s Day.

Sounds like the making of a fantastic day, and for me February 14, 2018 was truly a memorable day. I woke up, worked out at a hotel gym and prepared to visit Epcot Center for the first time since I was a kid. My biggest worry was what to do with my hair in the Florida humidity. I’d left Denver the previous day where it was 17 degrees and traded it for 80s with steam- OUCH!

We made a stop at Downtown Disney to ride in their helium balloon, which allows you to oversee the entire 40,000 acre property, then jumped in the car for Epcot. I made it real clear to my husband that all I wanted was a set of Minnie Mouse ears. Quite honestly, I thought they’d make a great Instagram photo (let’s be real), I could save them for an emergency costume and they’re an experience I should have before turning 40.

Turning Moments Into Movements

I often say that I find inspiration everywhere, so I looked for reminders that leaders turn moments into movements while traveling around the park. There were plenty. I saw a bush sculpture of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I nearly forgot that the dwarfs saved her life time and time again when the evil queen, who was also her step mother, became jealous of her beauty. Pretty cool that Snow White had a tribe! I most enjoyed the Disney staff who were from all parts of the world and always had a smile. Many told us they moved to Orlando just to work at Disney- that is certainly a movement. I’m always amazed with how Walt Disney and his family have built a place where we all feel good, no matter our age. If I could bottle that up, I’d have a hot sauce formula for #Firestarters.

Around 2:15pm, we got in line for the World Showcase. It was the one thing I remember from my trip as a child and I couldn’t wait to show my husband. The 35 minute wait was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. So we grabbed snacks and headed back for our hotel. We got in the car and I got a news alert from USA Today.

Thousands Of Lives Changed Forever

And with one click of my phone, the magic and sunshine that Florida has to offer became overshadowed by the day’s news. Just a three hour car ride from the Magic Kingdom was a scene out of a horror movie- gunfire, blood, chaos, people running and death. Nothing like a Disney movie. Seventeen dead, 15 injured and thousands of lives changed forever. Parkland, Florida will forever be known as a city where a teenager terrorized Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, becoming one of the country’s most deadliest school shootings.

How does it happen? How can a day that signifies love, compassion and adoration turn into an anniversary of death, destruction and desperation? And what would occur to turn it around?

I’m not sure that any of us on that day would have known things would have shifted from a conversation around #MeToo to #NeverAgain. Spurred by the death of their classmates, Florida’s children aren’t backing away. They are demanding action from lawmakers and reminding their elected officials that they will soon be voters in their district.

I listened to CNN one week later as they held press conferences, marches, walked out of class and shared their intentions to turn despair into a movement.  I can’t tell you how many times I had goosebumps as I drove down Austin’s Highway 183 listening to these students with their mighty voices tell their story as no one else can.  I yearned to be there to lend a strategic hand and still do.

As an emerging blogger and thought leader in this space, I want to provide perspective and tools for those who want to step up just like these students in Florida. It would be easy for me to pick a side and share my thoughts on gun control because I do have many.  I don’t think the time for that is now.

Taking Action

I truly believe that leaders turn moments into movements. I also believe that in order to inspire #Firestarters to take action (like right now), we need to take politics out of the how to make a difference. Movements will begin with a voice, and that voice should be determined by the leader that influences the work.

Just this week, three folks reached out to me asking what they should do if they wanted to further the #NeverAgain movement. There are things you can do and existing organizations where you can lend a hand or amplify a message.

  1. Create an online petition: Try Care 2 or Advocates from all walks of life use these two sites and I’ve done so successfully.

  2. Just as you would organize a phone bank for a political candidate, you can for an issue. Nation Builder does a good job of explaining.

  3. Join a coalition: Moms Rising or Every Town for Gun Safety are two that many are turning to to change gun control laws. Others are turning to NRA  to show their support for current laws.

Those three small actions are movements that you can launch in your community to become part of this larger movement.

If you would’ve asked me just a couple of days ago, I would’ve said that kids in Florida are the luckiest because they’re guaranteed a field trip to Disney and have endless beaches for Spring Break. I never had a Spring Break in high school or college so that sounded pretty cool to me. My perspective has shifted because there are 17 students who won’t get a Collegiate Spring Break. I also think kids in Florida are the luckiest because they cared enough about their own, their community and their well being to say, “ I’m not backing down and I demand change.”

Now that’s real love that I want to see not only on Valentine’s Day but any day of the year.

#GunViolence #Parkland #SchoolShooting #LeadershipMoments #Leadership #MovementMakerTribe #Voices #Advocacy

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