Eddie Sotomayor was friend to everyone he met.
Those friends, from around the world and in Sarasota, will come together Saturday at Robarts Arena to celebrate his life.
Sotomayor, 34, of Sarasota, was national brand manager for AlandChuck.travel, an LGBT travel agency. He was also one of the 49 victims who lost their lives in the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“It’s the most significant event in our business in 30 years,” said Al Ferguson, Sotomayor’s friend and employer. “It’s quite a challenge, but we’ve accepted our responsibility in terms of trying to make this a positive experience.”
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Sotomayor was in Orlando with his partner, Luis Rojas, to launch another gay cruise to Cuba, according to Ferguson.
“One of my favorite things I will always remember is his commitment of wanting to travel and not being fearful to travel,” he said.
Sotomayor received tributes from even those who didn’t know him such as singing star Lady Gaga and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
During the first cruise to Cuba in April, said Ferguson, Sotomayor sent himself a postcard adorned with the Cuban and American flags.
“Hello world,” it started, adding this was the first communication from Cuba to the United States in 50 years.
“It took seven weeks,” Ferguson said, saying it arrived just before the Pulse shooting.
While Sotomayor was in Cuba, he befriended Cuban artist Santiago Hermes, who will speak at the celebration with an English interpreter.
“This attack at Pulse was aimed at the Latin community,” Ferguson said, adding most of Sotomayor’s family is Spanish-speaking. “(Hermes’) participation will be a beautiful moment in the ceremony.”
The Celebration of Life for Edward Sotomayor page invites attendees to the St. Pete Pride at 5 p.m. and a candlelight procession at 8 p.m. following the celebration.
Eddie Sotomayor Celebration of Life
Where: Robarts Arena, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
St. Pete Pride
What: St. Pete Pride and candlelight procession
Where: King of Peace MCC, 3150 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg
When: 5-8 p.m. Saturday