My Las Vegas Shooting Survivors Story, 58 RAOK Manifesto, and #LoveWins

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Route 91 Country Music Festival
Route 91 is one of the largest music festivals in the country.

QUICK UPDATE on the #LoveWins Fundraiser (12/7/17):

As you’ll see at the bottom I’m part of the #LoveWins movement. To date through your generosity I’ve raised over $2,000 and I’m able to start a 529 college plan for a little girl without a mom now, send another family missing their mom also to a sporting event, and make a donation to a third family. I’m truly touched by your generosity!


 

I’ll start by saying this is by far the most difficult thing I’ve written in my life. The emotions and stress and anger have forced me to take a full two months to piece my thoughts together.

Many times I’d write a couple of paragraphs and walk away. I’d simply lose focus and/or didn’t want to relive what happened. Every single time I’ve worked on this story I’ve wiped away tears.

Today December 1, 2017, the shooting will have been a distant (yet seemingly recent) two months ago. I felt compelled to get this done by the two month anniversary, so here it goes.

What Happened 10/1?

I’m going to do my best to explain what we experienced the weekend of October 1st, 2017. It’s hard for me to even call this an “experience”. I really do not think there’s a word to describe what happened on October 1st. Several different punctuation marks in random fashion is the best way to describe it.

My amazing wife Katrina (K) has wanted to go to Route 91 for the last few years. This was the fourth annual Route 91 festival.

We both love country music, and while we previously frequented various concerts on a regular basis (monthly), once we had kids it slowed down our concert going quite a bit.

Route 91 Harvest Festival Selfie
Life was all good Day one! Little did we know…

Then there’s my wonderful mom. She’s had a lot on her plate for years now. My stepdad Craig suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Mom’s a country music fan as well, so for her birthday I asked her what she wanted. She wanted to get out for a fun weekend of music and a little break from the daily routine.

This was our first time attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, and it’s hard to put into words how excited the three of us were to go. Music, food, new friends, fun, and yes—beer! This was certain to be an event of a lifetime.

Little did we know…

So much anticipation and excitement built up over the weeks preceding the event. Katrina and I do enjoy a few adult beverages from time to time, and I didn’t even want to think about driving. We got an Uber all three days. No point in worrying about it—just have fun right?

Here We Go!

Eric Church at Route 91
Eric Church was absolutely amazing!

Day one (Friday night 9/29/17) one of our favorites, Eric Church, headlined. Actually THE favorite for us. While I loved many of the performers, this guy is off the charts!

Entering the venue (The Las Vegas Village) we see country music fans everywhere! There were boots and hats and American flags as far as you could see.

The setup filtered concertgoers by a separate smaller music stage to the left with lesser known artists from Nashville (K and I LOVE Nashville!). After that, we walked through a row of small general stores and food service stands, peppered of course with the obligatory beer and bar service areas.

The smell of BBQ filled the air. The “crack” of a fresh beer can being popped open could be heard every so often. In the distance was the main stage with various early artists performing.

The vibe was cool. 20,000+ People were smiling, laughing, and friendly everywhere you went.

It was quite fun watching my mom angle through the crowd to get closer and closer to the stage. She dodged and darted between this group and that group for a better view. K and I followed with a huge smile on our faces, knowing she was already having the time of her life (and we hadn’t even started yet!).

Katrina and I were having a BLAST at Route 91!

We ended up settling about as close to mid crowd as possible. Not super close to the front, pretty far from the back, and a bit closer to the Mandalay Bay side.

The venue was packed. Shoulder to shoulder is the best way to describe it. People everywhere having fun and enjoying the scene.

Mom is 72 now. While she’s got the years and experience, she’s about as young at heart as you could imagine. She teaches classes at the gym and exercises like a fiend. Her fitness surely came in handy at 10:05 on 10/1/17.

Eric Church and so many other performers played awesome music. The food was good, the crowd was super cool, and it was truly fun and amazing! He played past 12AM (well over 2 hours) and we retired day one into the history books.

I honestly didn’t think I would make all three days. I’m not exactly the party goer I was years ago. I go to bed by 9 typically (if that’s any indication). Yet after day one there was zero chance I’d miss day two. After day two there wasn’t any way I’d miss day three. You get the point.

Saturday Didn’t Disappoint Either

Admittedly I was a little sluggish for day two with Sam Hunt headlining. Sam Hunt is another favorite of mine though so I rallied, because that’s what we do!

Saturday’s experience was much of the same. More chatting and hanging out with our new friends made just the night before. Singing songs together, loving life without a care in the world. It was country music utopia for sure!

Katrina and I kept talking about how we are going to buy VIP tickets next year. We wanted to get the best experience possible! This year was so “off the hook” amazing, why not invest in VIP tickets and bring other loved ones?

Route 91 was quick to become a staple event in our lives which we’d never forget. It has certainly lived up to that.

Our view from Route 91 towards Mandalay Bay
This view still terrifies me. I’ll never forget looking this direction trying to see where the shooting was coming from.

For both nights now we were about 30 yards east of the VIP tent adjacent to LV Boulevard. We were roughly mid crowd front-to-back, but a bit closer to Mandalay Bay side-to-side. We were about as central to the entire event as you could get.

Then Rolls In Sunday, 1 October.

The video is from Jason Aldean’s “Take A Little Ride”. He started this song at 9:54pm 10/1/17, about 9 minutes before the carnage.

Again, sluggish from the prior two nights and less sleep than I’m used to, I rallied with my everything (Katrina) to go see more music and the headliner Jason Aldean. There was zero possibility we were going to miss the closing night after all!

I’ve posted videos and pictures from Route 91 on Facebook, but I didn’t capture the most amazing moment of the weekend. Big And Rich performed right before Jason Aldean.

If you know anything of Big And Rich, these guys are legit patriots! You just can’t find any musicians more patriotic or more proud of our service members and first responders than these guys.

My family is insanely patriotic. We stand, we pledge, we respect and honor current and former service members. We take nothing for granted, and appreciate their sacrifices and every freedom those sacrifices afford us each day.

The moment I did not capture was the ENTIRE CROWD SINGING GOD BLESS AMERICA with Big And Rich. It was one of the most patriotic, loving, and powerful moments of my life.

Rather than shooting a video, I had my phone lit up as bright as I could just like every other concertgoer there. Black, white, brown, straight, gay, green and purple and whatever—we were all united to honor our country! 20,000+ of us acting as one, and completely united.

Route 91 Harvest Festival - country music utopia!It felt so good at that moment. It was absolutely breathtaking—I will never forget it.

Little did we know what carnage would break loose an hour later.

If only I could go back to that moment in time and change the rest. If only . . .

On-site Security

One thing that really stood out to me was the crowd. There was 20,000+ people in that venue. It was jammed left-to-right, front-to-back. Yet, with so many people the crowd was so gracious, polite, fun, and respectful. We saw no altercations. Rather, we saw and met and chatted up so many amazing people from all over the country (and Canada).

It was a bit weird in a crowd that size. Nearly too good to be true! I’d suspect some issues with so many people and so many adult drinks. Neither we—nor our other friends there—saw any fights or issues. I say this is weird because we’ve been to so many smaller shows and it seems there’s always some nefarious characters acting a fool.

I commented many times how the in-house police and security guards had the best and easiest job! We’d walk by, thank them for their service. They’d nod and smile and tell us to have a good time. They were always chatting with concert goers, enjoying the music, chuckling at a few inebriated participants. They were always so respectful and nice.

Little did we know their “best, easiest job in the world” would turn into a horrifying nightmare. God bless our first responders.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Jason went on stage about 9:40. He played 5 songs, then one of his big hits— “Any Ol’ Barstool”. That song is forever ingrained in my memory; in fact, it’s rattled around my head for several weeks now at random times. In some ways I love that song stuck in my head, in other ways I despise it.

Pop, Pop, Pop.

What the hell is that? Who’s got the firecrackers? Is the sound system broken?

I was perplexed, confused, and definitely concerned. It sounded like gunshots, but it couldn’t be. Hmmmm . . . My mind is really doing cartwheels about this time.

There was some definite unease amongst the crowd with the first few sporadic “pops” we heard. No panic, no real concern, but unease.

I was raised by my grandfather, a 32 year Navy veteran. He bled for this country as did my grandmother (who also served as a corpsman in the Navy).

He raised me with an ultimate respect for all firearms starting from about 10 years old. From handling to firing to cleaning—firearms were (and are) a part of my life.

I am a Pro 2nd Amendment CCW holder. I’m by no means an expert, but far from a novice. I mention this to share insight as to my state of mind at the time.

I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing. No one wanted to believe it.

Jason moves on to the next song “When She Says Baby”. He’s barely a few bars into this song when the first consistent (and seemingly unending) barrage breaks out.

Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop . . .

You get the point. It sounded like a full auto machine gun blasting away. Dozens and dozens of rounds being aimed at the helpless and confused crowd.

I remember vividly looking towards Mandalay Bay thinking it was coming from that general direction. In the back of my mind though—how could that be? How could it be from that far away? It must be someone in the crowd shooting. If it’s one person, is there more?

About this point Jason runs off the stage and takes cover. Chaos and sheer terror ensues among MOST of the attendees. I don’t think everyone realized the threat that it really was.

Reality Sets In Quickly

My mom was directly in front of me, Katrina to my left. I knocked mom to the ground and jumped on top of her, reaching to my left to scoop Katrina under me, covering them both as best as possible.

This is the hardest part for me to relive.

THIS IS HOW I DIE.

THIS IS WHERE I DIE.

THIS IS WHEN I DIE.

PLEASE GOOD LORD DON’T LET IT HURT TOO MUCH.

PLEASE GOOD LORD MAKE SURE MY BOYS HAVE THEIR MOM TOMORROW.

Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop . . .

WHEN WILL IT STOP?

PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!

WHICH SHOT WILL BE THE LAST THING I HEAR?

Katrina looks up to me with her big blue eyes and in a terrified shaky voice and says “Why is this happening to us?”

It keeps going and going and going. Then, a break in the shooting.

The second I realize he’s reloading (or something) I start getting up, grabbing Katrina by the arm “let’s go let’s go let’s go NOW!”.

I’m looking towards the stage (south), and I feel the shooting is from the right (Mandalay Bay direction just over the VIP tent). There’s masses of people straight ahead, straight behind, and all around.

As I look left (east) a guy laying flat on his belly yells “NO, GET DOWN GET DOWN GET DOWN”!

He’s ingrained in my mind to this day. He had dark hair, was slightly portly, and had giant fearful eyes.

My response: “F#!@ THAT!!! GO NOW NOW NOW!”.

I hope he made it to safety. Laying there just wasn’t an option for me if I wanted to get them out alive.

As the three of us form a human chain, myself grabbing onto Katrina who was grabbing my mom – we take off running east across the field.

Running From Terror

This was surreal. About a minute or so prior we were shoulder to shoulder with thousands of concert goers. They disappeared for the most part—to me anyway.

It was surreal because my memory cannot be accurate. My memory is running across what felt like a wide open fully lit up football field. I had complete tunnel vision, I didn’t see crowds of people in that moment.

I saw the middle sound and bar area and we needed cover—even if just visible cover. I remember thinking bullets could easily pierce the tops of these structures, but we would be out of site at least.

This middle sound and bar area was probably 30 or so yards from our position, straight east. People at the front closer to the stage mostly went towards that end of the venue looking for cover and escape. People behind us mostly went towards the main entrance. I just wanted to GET AWAY FROM CROWDS OF PEOPLE!

This all happened so fast, yet I remember thinking to myself “I’d rather be a moving target than a stationary one”. I knew this was some sort of terror attack in which the shooter was shooting fish in a barrel. I wanted out of that barrel and away from the “meatball” of people.

Our 3 person human chain made it to the bar area. There was a bartender there who had opened a gap in the tent structures.

“HERE GO HERE THROUGH THE TENTS” he said. Thank you kind sir whoever you were, you were an angel to us that night.

I remember us squeezing through the back of that bar service area right by a giant cooler of Bud Light Tall Boys ready for thirsty concertgoers.

As we breach the mid-venue structures we’re now in the wide open again, still pushing hard east towards Giles St. While it may have felt good to hide under those tents, they weren’t going to protect us.

Now we’re forced to cross another unprotected shooting zone section of grass to keep pushing towards any exit we could hopefully find when we reached the side fencing. This section may have been 40 or 50 yards before we hit more structures with false cover.

Somehow, somewhere during this run Katrina and I became physically separated for what felt like an eternity, but couldn’t have been more than a couple of seconds. While the field still seemed empty in my memories, I’m positive we were separated dodging other people.

“GREG!” She screamed.

“Katrina HERE!” I yelled to her about 10 feet to my right.

We re-connected quickly and kept running. Lights are on, chaos was rampant, and we were literally running for our lives.

Later Katrina would tell the story of hearing the bullets which felt like they were at her feet, and hearing their ricochets. I don’t have that same recollection, though I’m sure she’s right.

Mom Is A Rock Star

Thankfully my mom is in pretty good shape, but the stress and terror took it’s toll about this point. She fell a little behind at one point, and started hyperventilating.

“YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. NOW. RUN!” Katrina yelled at mom.

“OK OK OK” mom replied, ponying up with another strong burst of energy.

Mom teaches gym classes and works out regularly. Thank God for her strong physical condition, she kept up like a champ! Love you mom!

The shooting starts back up at some point while we’re still trying to escape the chaos eastward.

Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop…

At this point I’m feeling “Just get the hell out of here, our chances to live increase a lot by getting out and staying away from masses of people”.

Ducking and dodging and diving towards the fence adjacent Giles street, the real panic started to set in (as if it could get any worse).

Somehow people were able to pull the tall chainlink fence apart from the brick wall it was connected to from the top. This left somewhat of a V shaped opening, open at the top but closed at the bottom and not a lot of room.

While there wasn’t a lot of room, there were a LOT of people trying to escape.

Will we be trampled? Smushed? I’m not small, I can take a lot more of that than mom and Katrina.

With bullets raining down there was only one choice—go for it and get through that tight opening between the fence and wall.

I’m baffled to this day. With so much terror and chaos, with so many people trying to fit through that opening one at a time, I expected we would have been knocked around. This couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Considering everything going on, our fellow escapees were patient and polite. I didn’t see any trampling or fighting or yelling or anything negative.

One by one people feverishly squeezed through the V shaped gap to Giles St., and hopeful safety.

Walls Walls Walls

I wanted walls to run against and hide behind. Walls for protection from the spraying bullets.

An officer just outside of the fence yells “KEEP GOING THIS WAY KEEP GOING GO GO GO GO!”

Thank you kind sir, we appreciate your service whomever you are!

We ran hand to hand to hand down the street, out of breath, still terrified, hoping for safety – yet feeling slightly better we were out of the venue itself.

After a couple hundred yards or so of running, I look to my left and see a stairway into some apartments. It was in between two walls and since I was looking for one wall, two was definitely better!

“This way this way, There are WALLS!” I said to K and mom.

We made a beeline to the stairway. Up the stairs we run to the top. Once we got to the top panic set in. There was nowhere to go from there. Did I make a bad decision?

There was a small hallway left and right, and several closed doors. What to do now?

Are there multiple shooters? Are they running around mowing people down? Are they chasing us?

Within a few seconds thankfully, a group of 9 who were there at the event selling merchandise (please check them out – City Roots In Boots – https://www.cityrootsinboots.com/) had just made it back to their room.

City Roots In Boots

Katrina in Nashville
Katrina sporting some new City Roots In Boots gear in Nashville for the Country Rising benefit concert.

They were young and terrified like us (well we’re not young per se, but we were ALL terrified). They had rented an apartment for the weekend with their friends to sell their apparel and promote their brand at Route 91.

“Do you have anywhere to go?” one of them says.

“NO”

“Get in!”

Finally we made it to a room with four walls. A couple of the guys in the group moved the very heavy marble topped dining table in front of the door to blockade it.

No one knew what was going to happen next.

Lights were kept off, we all stayed very quiet and completely in shock—yet still terrified it would get worse.

The City Roots In Boots crew was a literal “Godsend”. They took us in, gave us shelter, water, snacks, and comfort. They opened their door and their hearts, and we are truly grateful for them and everything they did for us complete strangers.

Our Angel

Here’s where I won’t mention names, but we are truly blessed with some of the most amazing friends you could ever imagine. Specifically, as we were hiding out behind a barricaded apartment door until the wee hours of the morning, I was able to stay in contact via text with a good buddy (a police officer) who was active during the aftermath.

“What do we do?” I asked.

“Hunker down. Don’t move. I’ll be in touch.”

The three of us had huddled together at the end of a hallway. The room was kept pitch black, lit only by a smattering of cell phone screens as we all searched for answers and reached out to loved ones.

You could hardly hear more than gentle whispers for hours as we all remained on edge, that is until more gunfire rang out.

Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop…

Now the shots were much quieter from inside the safety of their apartment. Still every bump and bang sent a chill up my spine.

About an hour or so later I get a text from him “I don’t want to freak you out, but there’s a report of a bomb near you. Don’t move”.

Great, more carnage coming our way? How big could the bomb be? How close?

Thankfully the bomb reports were incorrect. We’d had enough that night as it was. We’d had enough for a lifetime in reality.

Our friend—our angel—eventually was able to pick us up about 3:30 am. “Come outside” he texted me.

“Is it safe?” I asked.

“Yes come outside I think I’m close to where you are” he replied.

“Katrina, mom, let’s go now”

“NO” Katrina says. “I can’t go out there, NO”

“Babe, we have to go now. He’s here for us”

Begrudgingly and still terrified, the three of us made our way to the front door where one of the City Roots In Boots crew helped me move the table from the barricaded front door.

“Are you sure? Is it safe?” One of them asks.

“Yes, we have a friend who serves. We are going to meet him on the street” I answered.

A Show Of Force

We timidly crept out the door down the stairs we once felt helpless on, and away from our new friends who provided us safety. This in itself felt like a massive struggle.

Downstairs on E. Reno street we found a number of flashing lights and a strong police presence. Up rolls our angel coming to get us out of the danger zone.

I was the first to get to my buddy as he got out of his police car, bear hugging him with his AR-15 still strapped to his chest. That hug meant so much to me.

Katrina and mom followed with big hugs for him. It was as if we’d just been given a new lease on life.

We’d never sat in a police car prior. Suffice to say they’re VERY uncomfortable with their plastic seats. Yet another reason to stay out of trouble kids!

Mom got to ride shotgun, so I suspect she had a more comfortable trip than we did in the back seat. We were just thankful. More than being thankful, feeling the rock hard plastic seats meant we were alive and uninjured.

My buddy had to work, taking care of whatever else needed to be taken care of in the midst of the tragedy. After a quick drop off at McCarran Airport so we could find an Uber, we finally—FINALLY—felt safe again.

So with that background, here’s what I learned from surviving the Las Vegas shooting.

Every Breath Is A Gift But A Curse

Being shot at with no means to defend myself, my wife, or my mom, changed my life. Why am I here today? Why did I survive and others did not? Why do my boys still have a mom and dad, and others don’t?

Everyone hurt or deceased in the incident was special in their own way. They had husbands/wives/kids/parents etc.

Why am I here? What’s the purpose?

I’ve watched (probably way too many) videos of the shooting. I saw exactly where we stood that night in one video. I was amazed as I watched a beer can on the ground (where we once huddled for cover) explode as it was shot. A group of 10 or so stunned concertgoers stood paralyzed 20 feet away in this same video

What makes me deserving to breathe the air each day? Nothing I can think of more than any other person there. While I hate to say we are “lucky” to survive, I don’t know what else to say. Perhaps a higher purpose? A bigger calling in life?

While I feel we got out fast, made the right moves here and there, it’s all a farce. It just wasn’t our time I guess?

I struggle with this. So does K. It’s not easy when so many wonderful people didn’t go home that night.

Every day from then to now I question these things. While each breathe is a gift, it seems to be equally a curse in some twisted way. Surely there were people who didn’t survive more deserving of life than myself.

That’s a daily struggle I pray will subside as time goes on.

So I choose to believe every breath is a gift. Others weren’t blessed with that gift unfortunately. I cry for their families, and I don’t know why we were spared. Hopefully in time I’ll figure that out somehow.

Evil Clearly Exists, Which By Default Means Good Exists

Being an anal retentive math and stats type of guy, this one is clear.

I’ve said for years “For every Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela there is a Charles Manson and a Ted Bundy.” 

Some choose to dedicate their life to good and serving others. Some choose a darker path. Some are called in either direction by light or dark forces beyond their control.

Most of us fall in the middle. Most of us are normal people who want to love on our family and make our kids life better than our own.

Evil does exist though. Pure evil.

Pure evil will always have its day. When you’re purely evil no one can stop you, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice your own life. No one can prevent it. Evil will always find a way. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s reality.

Some people may not agree with this next statement, but it’s how I feel.

Evil doesn’t need a gun, evil needs a mission. Box cutters, pressure cookers, fertilizer, Home Depot assault truck rentals—they’ve all been used to kill many over the years. Why? Because evil had a mission.

Those things—like firearms—are merely tools to execute evil’s mission. I don’t blame the gun, I blame evil.

Good, love, and peace will always find its way just as much—if not more! For every evil person with a mission we need to recognize the good people who are truly giving and loving and caring. In a sick way I’m glad evil exists, because the good people do is so much more powerful than the evil people do.

WOW VEGAS!

K and I moved here in 2002. It was a decision between Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

Vegas is weird in its own way. I mean, it’s a gambling mecca in the middle of a desert that easily hits 110 for much of the summer months, then freezes in the winter months, and has little water?

Vegas is definitely a unique place to call home. I would never trade this hometown.

Most people don’t “grow up” in Vegas however. Most of us are transplants from California or Arizona.

People move in. People move out. Chasing dreams here and there. Some work out, some don’t.

We are a transient city as most would say. Not MY Las Vegas!

MY Las Vegas is #VegasStrong! My Las Vegas has more heart and soul than any other city I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to take away from other amazing cities, but what you THINK you know about Las Vegas IS NOT the real Las Vegas.

This community chipped in on every level. This community waited in lines that were hours and hours and hours long to give blood. This community helped injured people into vehicles while still in the line of fire.

This community ponies up with water, food, support to anyone helping. This community is selfless like outsiders would never expect—or suspect. This community found every way possible to help ease suffering and heal the wounded.

This community is #VegasStrong! I love this community! I’m proud to call you home Las Vegas!

Route 91 Tattoo Unfinished
I’m not done yet, but this means so much to me to memorialize the 58 angels and everything we’ve been through

I realize tattoos may be taboo to some still. This event hit K and I so hard on so many levels we both felt a calling to memorialize it. While my tattoo isn’t complete yet (this was a 5 hour sitting as it was), you can see where my heart is. As I publish this, she’s starting her tribute tattoo.

This IS my hometown. We are #VegasStrong.

There Are Things That Matter And Things I Can Control

I drive slower now. I don’t know why, but I can control it, so I drive the speed limit (if that).

It’s not like I was a speed racer. I definitely drove faster than I do now however. I think this makes K a little happier.

Things just don’t seem quite as time sensitive to me anymore. I’m here after all. That’s a blessing! Other things now seem trivial in many ways.

I’ve always had a passion for promptness. My grandpa raised me that way after all, because a Navy vet is never ever late.

The fact that I’m alive to write this however makes me wonder if life shouldn’t be a little less stressful? Maybe if I’m 5 minutes later here and there the world will still turn? Maybe (and most likely) I will always be a timely person who actually relaxes a little if things push me a few minutes late?

In the chaos I felt I could make a smart exit and move us towards safety to the best of my ability. While every shot mattered, where they landed and what they struck was completely out of my control.

That “smart exit” was nothing more than instinct. I thank my grandfather in heaven. He taught me everything, and I feel he guided me in many ways as we formed a human chain ducking and dodging our way out.

After he passed I had engraved “In your footsteps I will follow” on his most prized possession, a Rolex watch he bought while stationed in Japan. I inherited that watch when he passed (actually my uncle inherited it, but he graciously passed it to me because he knew it was the only thing I wanted to remember him).

In so many ways those were his footsteps I followed that night. He helped me get K and mom out to safety.

So there are things I can control and things that matter. Everything mattered that night of October 1, but only a few things I could control. I’ve come to accept that, and accept my decisions in the process.

Vegas Strong!

I Won’t Back Down

These mass casualty events are devastating. Mentally, physically, emotionally—it’s devastating. These sick, twisted things that happen to us are incredibly painful.

It’s not just the people who were there physically as well. It’s their friends, family, and every American who cries as one.

I was terribly sorry to hear of rock legend Tom Pettys passing. Tom Petty said it all though. I’ll stand my ground, I won’t back down.

I will say it was meaningful and therapeutic to hear Jason Aldean sing that song the week following the shooting on Saturday Night Live. It’s a powerful message.

“You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down” It was a perfect tribute to the October 1 shooting, and to Tom Petty as well. I’m sure he was smiling somewhere.

Mr. wack job shooter (and every other future wack job nutso) know this: You cannot stop us from doing what we love! You will certainly find the hottest corner in the pits of hell, and I hope you experience every bit of the pain that has to offer.

BUT YOU WILL NOT STOP US FROM DOING WHAT WE LOVE!

My 58 RAOK Manifesto

58 Angels took flight the night of October 1, 2017. I feel an overwhelming desire to honor them, so I’m completing 58 Random Acts Of Kindness in their honor.

Currently as I publish this, I’m on #10. #10 has a name, and each of the 58 have a story. She’s Andrea Castilla from Huntington Beach. She was a bright 28 year old who wanted to serve cancer patients with her talents as a makeup artist.

One of our 58 angels from Route 91.

So tomorrow, I will find a random act in honor of Andrea Castilla. Then I’ll move on to Denise Cohen, and then Austin Davis. Finally on October 1 of 2018 I’ll complete my 58 RAOKs, honoring all of the Route 91 angels in some way.

I did the math on this, and if only 5% of concertgoers pledged the same 58 RAOKs that means 58,000 Random Acts Of Kindness will have been accomplished. That’s a powerful thing in itself! 58,000!

If you found this—or any Route 91 story—impactful, I highly encourage you to download the PDF here and start your own mission of 58 RAOKs.

Finally, So Many Families Are Hurting This Holiday Season

#LoveWins is a movement started by a survivor named Dennis in California. I don’t know Dennis personally, but I’ve watched as he’s put his heart and soul into this project.

This is Dennis’s calling—to help the victims’ families have the best holiday season they can under their personal circumstances. His mission is so powerful I had to jump in and help.

We’ve adopted (so to speak) 3 families who’ve lost a loved one. One is local, two are out of state.

In addition, I’ve pledged to help other people like me help their families which they’ve adopted. It’s definitely a group effort.

The mission with the #LoveWins project is clear:

Neysa Tonks Cross on LV Blvd.
Neysa Tonks is survived by her husband Glade and three sons. They are one of our families for this #LoveWins project and we wish them peace during a tough time.

To honor and remember the 58 lives lost on October 1, 2017, by performing random acts of kindness and remaining a constant foundation of support for the Route 91 Family.

Our vision is to spread love. To make it known that although there was a tragic event that took place and took the lives of 58 amazing people, hate will not prevail. We will move forward and make sure they are not forgotten.

With the upcoming holidays, our immediate goal is to provide any needs and wants to the 58 angels’ families, as well as injured survivors. We are collecting monetary donations, toys, and gift cards. We want them to know we are here to offer support financially, and emotionally, whether it be sending some flowers, or providing Christmas dinner and gifts.

For the future we want to maintain a level of support for the angel’s families, and injured survivors. We plan to start college funds for the children left without a parent, send flowers to a mother who no longer has her child, and genuinely be there for everyone who needs support. We will forever honor our 58 angels, reminding the world that LOVE WINS ALWAYS.

Route 91 memorial
The Route 91 memorial under the fabulous Las Vegas sign

I INVITE YOU TO HELP ME BECAUSE LOVE WINS!

The project has a PayPal account set up already for donations. You can visit www.Paypal.me/LoveWins9117 and make a donation. Please type my last name PHELPS in the memo field. This will help me better take care of my 3 families. Any remaining donations will go to the general project fund and help the rest of the 58 and those injured who need our support.

No matter how big or small, every donation will help!

Again, if you’ve found my story impactful, please consider forgoing a Starbucks or a pizza and helping us fund this project. There are few things in life which have impacted me so greatly, and this is one of them (the birth of my boys is the other).

Click the image to donate to my #LoveWins project, and please note “PHELPS” in the memo:

#LoveWins is a project started by Dennis to support the victims of the Route 91 tragedy.

I greatly appreciate your time, reading my survivors story, taking on your own 58 RAOKs, and considering helping this project with a donation.

Thank you, God Bless!

Greg

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