THE ONEPULSE Foun­da­tion and the Matthew Shep­ard Foun­da­tion an­nounce a part­ner­ship that will in­clude a pro­duc­tion next year in Or­lando of “The Laramie Project” — the play about Shep­ard’s death af­ter he was killed for be­ing gay.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Kate San­tich Staff Writer ksan­tich@or­lan­dosen­, 407-420-5503 or Twit­ter: @kate­san­tich

United by two tragedies, the OnePulse Foun­da­tion is join­ing the Matthew Shep­ard Foun­da­tion to bring to Or­lando a month­long pro­duc­tion of “The Laramie Project” — a play about a gay col­lege stu­dent who was beaten, tor­tured and left to die in a Wy­oming field.

“We have a shared mis­sion and a shared sor­row,” said Sara Brady, a spokes­woman for the OnePulse Foun­da­tion, the non­profit formed in the af­ter­math of the June 2016 Pulse night­club mas­sacre. “This will be our ini­tial project, but we hope to col­lab­o­rate on other ef­forts down the road.”

The project, an­nounced Mon­day, will in­clude a celebrity fundraiser and read­ing of the play on June 2, 2018, two weeks be­fore the two-year mark of the shoot­ing.

The part­ner­ship’s larger pur­pose is to fight hate crimes and gun vi­o­lence against the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar and so­ci­ety in gen­eral, Brady said.

“Ev­ery day, it be­comes even more clear that some­thing has to change,” said Bar­bara Poma, Pulse’s owner and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the OnePulse Foun­da­tion. “The in­crease in mass shoot­ings, hate crimes — in­clud­ing those tar­get­ing the LGBTQ com­mu­nity — and a lack of leg­isla­tive ac­tion [have] put the re­spon­si­bil­ity on foun­da­tions like ours to … work to­gether to help.”

Poma had reached out to Judy Shep­ard, Matthew’s mother, in hopes of pro­mot­ing their shared cause, Brady said.

Judy Shep­ard and her hus­band, Den­nis, started their foun­da­tion fol­low­ing the 1998 death of their 21-year-old son, Matthew, a stu­dent at Univer­sity of Wy­oming in Laramie who was bru­tally at­tacked, tied to a fence and left for dead. He died of his in­juries five days later.

The two groups will de­tail their part­ner­ship at greater length at the Matthew Shep­ard Foun­da­tion’s 20th an­niver­sary kick-off Thurs­day at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The inn is the site of a series of ri­ots by the gay com­mu­nity in 1969 to protest po­lice raids that rou­tinely took place against gay bars.

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