When David McCann learned of the horrific shooting deaths of 50 people at an Orlando gay nightclub this weekend, he began calling friends in Florida to see if they were safe.
No one answered.
His worst fears were realized when the names of victims started trickling in. One of the first was Edward Sotomayor Jr., a gregarious 34-year-old travel professional who McCann first met in Mexico.
“He was just a lovely guy,” McCann said, his voice breaking with grief. “It really hit me.”
He left work and returned home to the West End, where he pondered how he could counter such an act of hate with a gesture of love.
And so he headed to Davie Street, the bright pink heart of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community, walked into the Fountainhead Pub, and told the manager he wanted to pay $1,000 toward the bills of everyone in the Vancouver bar.
“I’d seen people do it in coffee shops, and I’d done it once or twice myself. I’ve seen how random acts of kindness make people stop and really think about where they’re going,” McCann explained. “The people who can do huge things are few and far between, but random acts and small acts do make a difference in the world.”
He had only one request: that the restaurant ask everyone who received a free drink or meal to respond with their own selfless act.
As it turned out, the people who run the Fountainhead had also been puzzling over how they could respond to Sunday’s shooting, according to managing partner Michel Duprat. He decided to match McCann’s donation with another $1,000 toward customers’ bills.
“It was a beautiful gesture. I thought, ‘I’ve got to roll with coincidence’,” Duprat said.