JACKSONVILLE – This is the most difficult of times for the City of Orlando.
That made this the easiest of decisions for Blake Bortles.
Bortles, the Jaguars' third-year quarterback, on Thursday morning announced that his foundation – the Blake Bortles Foundation – has donated $10,000 to the City of Orlando's OneOrlando Fund. That announcement came as the Jaguars also announced an initiative to raise money for the fund.
OneOrlando has been established as a way to respond to the needs of Orlando in the wake of the Pulse tragedy early Sunday morning.
"I can't even imagine what those people and their families and their friends are going through," Bortles said.
Bortles was born in Altamonte Springs, and grew up in Oviedo. He attended the University of Central Florida and retains close ties to the Orlando area.
"It's unbelievable," Bortles said. "There is always stuff like this that goes on around the world and in our country. It's one of those things you never think will happen in your home, especially in Orlando because it's such a place that's viewed as a fun, happy city that people come from all over the world to visit.
"It was one of those things where you never thought it would happen to you, but it did and it's tragic and unbelievably unfortunate and sad."
Bortles said the situation and his Orlando ties made this a perfect fit for the foundation's mission.
"Part of our mission statement is first responders," Bortles said. "There is a lot of money being raised for the families of victims and there are a lot of people trying to get involved. There are also a lot of people behind the scenes who are trying to clean this thing up and make it right – those people being firefighters and policemen.
"That was sort of an easy thing, to say 'Let's give money to help these people out so they can help the situation out and hopefully make this as easy as possible for some of these families.'''
The Jaguars on Friday announced they are engaging with their fans to raise money for a donation that will be given to OneOrlando. Over the next week, the Jaguars Foundation – the team's charitable arm – will collect donations online through jaguars.com/jaxfororlando/.
Fans can donate any amount; those who donate at least $25 can receive a custom "Orlando United" cap. The collection period will end on Friday, June 24.
"In response to the senseless acts of violence, the Jaguars Foundation is encouraging our fans to support our friends and neighbors in Central Florida by donating money to the OneOrlando Fund via the Jaguars' #JAXFORORLANDO initiative," Jaguars Foundation president Peter Racine said.
Bortles announced the foundation's donation commitment at a press conference with Racine and Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry, who announced that the City of Jacksonville is launching a Dear Orlando postcard campaign to provide Jacksonville residents with the opportunity to express their thoughts and sentiments to members of the Orlando community.
The postcards will be available at public library locations throughout the city of Jacksonville starting next week. Citizens can pick up and return postcards to one of the city's 21 library locations. The campaign will run through July 30, the International Day of Friendship, when the cards will be sent to the City of Orlando.
"My heart – and the hearts of our entire community – go out to the city of Orlando," Curry. "I applaud Blake and the Jaguars for their leadership and support of efforts to help the community heal. I encourage Jacksonville citizens to join us in sharing hope with our Florida neighbors."
Jaguars fans and Jacksonville residents interested in donating should visit jaguars.com/jaxfororlando/ and share their support on social media using the hashtag #JAXFORORLANDO.