Volunteers in Maui, Hawaii, have woven a mile-long “Lei of Aloha for Orlando” in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting at a gay nightclub, in which at least 49 people were killed and 53 people were injured during Latinx Night at Pulse Nightclub.
The lei, which was made in eight sections to represent the eight islands of Hawaii, took hundreds of volunteers four days to complete. A delegation from Maui will deliver the lei to Orlando, Florida, pending travel arrangements, according to organizers.
“Living here in Hawaii, we are not immune to violence towards LGBT,” Joe Tolbe, one of the organizers of the effort, told NBC News. “What happened in Orlando could have easily happened here in Hawaii. Bullets killed those 49 people, [but] love is our weapon that you can never kill.”
The initial idea to make a lei for Orlando came from Ron Panzo, who owns Nalu’s South Shore Grill where volunteers gathered to weave the lei. However, the idea soon became an all-community and state-wide effort, including members of the LGBT community, nonprofit organizations, the Cynthia Rose Foundation, Maui Civil Air Patrol, Hawaii state Sen. Roz Baker, Gov. David Ige, and many others across the community. Some donated food and live music for the volunteers. Many donated ti leaves, including a large donation of ti leaves sent from the Big Island of Hawaii, according to Tolbe.
“We have so many hands that came together to weave this lei of love to remember those that were killed,” Tolbe said. “It represents all the different cultures and beliefs here. It's a small memorial from Hawaii that we send to the families to say they are remembered and loved.”
Volunteers in Maui also made and delivered a mile-long 250-pound orchid and ti leaf lei for Paris last fall.
Follow NBC Asian America on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.