Community builds memorial in downtown Fort Myers for Hurricane Ian victims

Published: Updated:
Memorial being constructed for the victim of Hurricane Ian. (Credit: WINK News)

Leo Soto lost a friend in the Surfside Collapse and decided to make a memorial for people who lost loved ones or are missing loved ones. He said it’s a way for people to remember and honor them. Since the creation of that first memorial, Soto has gone to Mayfield, Kentucky, after the tornadoes ripped through there, and Ukraine because of the recent war to create memorials there.

Now, Soto is bringing a memorial to Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers. He says he chose the spot because it was an open canvas and a place with enough foot traffic for the community to see and remember what took place in 2022 when Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida.

He said he’s learned from loved ones at other memorials that flowers help with the healing process.

“There’s something very healing about flowers, it’s very comforting and makes you feel like there’s some hope, and that really is why the nonprofit I founded is called ‘The Wall of Hope Foundation,'” Soto said. “We aim to just give people a little sense of hope to begin the healing process. You know, a lot of people walk around kind of shocked when a lot of these tragedies happen; they don’t have anywhere to come together and to hug each other and to begin to heal, and that’s what these memorials do: They give the community a place to begin to heal together and love each other.

Soto says he is leaving the vision of the memorial up to the people in Southwest Florida who were impacted and lost loved ones in the storm.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.