Man travels from Miami to Kentucky to create ‘Wall of Hope’

A man from Miami is turning pain into passion. He began memorial for the people impacted by the tragedy in Surfside. And, after seeing how much that helped the community heal with the “Wall of Hope” Foundation, he’s heading to Kentucky to help another community rocked by tragedy.

When destruction is all you see, miles and miles of flattened buildings, with dozens of lives lost, it can be difficult to find hope.

Leo Soto traveled more than a thousand miles from Miami, FL, to Mayfield, KY. “When I arrived to Kentucky, people were just walking around looking at the destruction with like this zombie look in their face. Just not knowing where to go,” Soto said.

Soto is building what he calls his “Wall of Hope.” This is his way of helping people heal after a tragic situation. “I actually had a national guardsmen come up to me and say, ‘hey, I wanna thank you because these last four days has been really difficult.’ It’s been all tragedy, all sadness, and this is the first time that I see the community have some hope.” he said.

He has experience creating hope from tragedy. WINK News met Soto at Surfside. He “went to high school with one of the people missing.”

So, he decided to make hope his life’s work while he was tending to the Surfside building collapse victims. Soto created a nonprofit that allows him to where he is needed.

“A lot of times people look at casualty numbers, and they just see it a statistic, and they sort of get numb to it, but when you put the face of two-month-old Oaklynn Koon that one of the victims,” said Soto. “When you put the face four-year-old Jaleel, one of the victims, it really becomes that much clearer that something horrible happened here.”

Soto plans to stay in Mayfield this weekend as people gather at his memorial to grieve and honor the lives lost. “I actually saw yesterday, last night to an old couple, they walked up to the memorial wall. You can tell they had seen it somewhere because they had a beautiful bouquet in their hand and they had a picture of one of their life plans. And I saw them put that picture up and lay the bouquet right next to it very much like what would happen in Surfside so that was a first moment I was like this is really helping the community,” Soto said.

He hopes that he won’t be needed but is ready to go whenever he is.

To learn more about Leo Soto’s “Wall of Hope Hope” Foundation, you can follow this link.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Drew Hill
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