I grew up in the small town of Reno, Nevada – the biggest little city in the world. Las Vegas is nearly an eight-hour drive away, however when we say “Home Means Nevada”, it does not matter how far away we may be from each other. We are family.
On the evening of October 1st, 2017, terror struck my home. What started out as a fun and enjoyable country concert, one where friends from back home were in attendance, turned into a nightmare within minutes. The largest mass shooting in American history ensued, with a horrific count of 500 injuries and 58 deaths. Throughout my life, I have heard about mass shootings that have taken place within our nation, from the horrors of Sandy Hook to Pulse Nightclub, and have always felt a sense of sadness for the victims and their families. I would wonder if there is anything I could do to help, but eventually push it to the side due to how far away the event was from me. It was as if I could not do anything due to that separation.
But now, I am heartbroken. I am heartbroken for the people I know who were in Las Vegas and I am heartbroken to know that it took this event to truly open my eyes to the ways in which mass shootings affect us all. Even living in a city so far away from Las Vegas, I found myself frantic on my phone with concern for the safety of people I know, reaching out to friends to make sure they are okay, and my mind was flooded with fear for people I could not get in touch with. I could not hold back my tears, and I still can’t while writing this.
A girl from my high school has gone viral on social media through a video her boyfriend took showing the horror and recording the gunshots. If you have seen the video, you can hear the fear in her voice, begging her boyfriend that they leave.
The old principle at my sibling’s school, and the current one at my old high school, recalls seeing people drop in front of her during the attack. She is now recovering at home with her husband, who is being treated for injuries from having bullet shards in his foot.
I can begin to understand what it must be like to be a victim of something so horrible.
I am heartbroken.
However, I have seen a glimpse of hope for my home as well. Despite the sadness within my heart, I have also begun to see this tragic event through a more hopeful lens when seeing the “behind-the-scenes” support that comes from my friends and neighbors back home. By 6:40 am on October 2nd, 2017, the United Blood Services office in Reno had people waiting in a line that went out the door, ready to donate blood for those who are injured. A local Taco Bell came to the office and handed out free breakfast burritos to everyone who was donating, and even a single individual brought as many donuts as he could carry.
While reading these accounts and seeing pictures of these heroes on my Facebook feed, I could see how important it is to take action towards helping those who are victim to the horrors of mass shootings that are happening throughout our nation. I now know the importance of coming together as a nation to show support and how even the smallest contribution I make for families affected by these tragedies can make a huge difference.
I hope and pray everyday that we as a country can find a solution to remove this hate.
I hope and pray everyday for the families affected.
And I hope and pray that I can find a way to make a difference.