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In the Aftermath of the Las Vegas Shooting…

Filed under: Featured,The Buzz |     
Graphic courtesy of Eric Hardesty.

Graphic courtesy of Eric Hardesty.

By: Brittany Bevis

In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, many Las Vegas residents have banded together to give blood, help distribute supplies, and hold memorial vigils for those who were gunned down during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, a little over one week ago. On October 1st, as country music fans gathered to listen to the sounds of Jason Aldean, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock used numerous modified weapons to shoot from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, killing 59 people and injuring 489 others.

With the numerous horse shows that take place in Las Vegas every year, such as the Silver Dollar Circuit and National Finals Rodeo, Sin City is a town well-known to many within the horse show community. Some even call Las Vegas, home. AQHA amateur exhibitor, Kina Marie, lives in a high rise condominium known as Panorama Towers, one of the closest residential buildings to the Mandalay Bay. “My living room has a direct view of the T-Mobile Arena and the Mandalay Bay,” she says.

Kina was actually supposed to attend the concert and had three-day VIP wristbands for the event. But due to a sudden change in plans, she stayed home. “I was initially supposed to go on Saturday as my favorite artist, Sam Hunt, was playing. I had a girls’ night planned prior to remembering the event was in town. I tried to convince them to change our plans from dinner and a nightclub to attending the country music festival, but they wanted to stick to our original plan. I was bummed out, as I’ve never been to this festival, but I agreed to stick to the script. I figured that I would just go the following day, on Sunday.”

“Due to the girls’ night running a little later than scheduled, and one too many cocktails, I ended up spending the majority of my Sunday babysitting my hangover. That hangover might have just saved my life…”

Kina did know several people who attended the concert on Sunday. Thankfully, everyone escaped unscathed. “Understandably, I think each and every person is traumatized and going through a lot right now. I can’t even begin to fathom the horror that was inflicted on people just trying to have a good time and listening to great music with their friends and family on that night.”

Kina remembers receiving a notice on her phone on Sunday night alerting residents that there was an active shooter situation at Mandalay Bay. As the situation escalated and it became clear what was happening, she quickly contacted friends and family to ensure that everyone was out of harm’s way. “My friend and I were perplexed, but at no point did we think that something of such magnitude was taking place. Many friends of mine were also hearing rumors of shooters in other casinos, through police scanners. No one was sure exactly what was going on, but everyone was fearful.”

“Many casinos were on lockdown, and the whole city was in a sense of panic. I heard every siren imaginable. It was almost as if the city was crying. Once I was able to grasp what was happening, I too, was crying. I didn’t sleep all of Sunday night and also most of Monday. I spoke to all of my family and friends, reassuring them I was ok, and also checking on them to make sure they were ok. It was a moment I will most certainly never forget, and pray to never relive.”

22089571_755520687963553_5822887074629763233_nAfter spending the first few days after the attack, isolated in her home, Kina decided she should try to do something to help. “I have to be honest; during the first couple of days, I just couldn’t leave my house. I was very depressed and somber. When the reality sat in, I just didn’t feel right not being involved in efforts to help.”

Kina set out with two of her friends, Jessica and Sidney, with donations of food, energy drinks, and care packages to distribute to weary police officers and victims. “We picked up donated food from my friend Javi, who owns Pinches Tacos. We dropped off the food to the police station on the strip, to some very appreciative policemen and women. After that, we brought a care package of a soft blanket, two stuffed animals, and a board game to a hospital where one of the victims of the attack was recovering. The victim is a mother of two. She lost her left eye, currently has fragments in her right eye, and is unable to see at all. She’s a friend of a friend, and we wanted to let her know that she has friends that will help her no matter where she is. Once we left the hospital, we headed back to the police station to meet my friend Jay, who had a truckload of Monster Energy drinks. My two girlfriends and I loaded up my horse-show cooler with energy drinks and hit the strip.”

“The police officers are working double shifts and are exhausted and hot. We passed out energy drinks to all of the amazing men and women in uniform who were stationed on the strip. I will say that walking the strip, and probably in the same steps of some of the victims, was of course particularly hard. However, I was so happy that we were able to give back to the community, even if in such a small way.”

Kina confirms that the hospitals are in need of monetary donations. A GoFundMe page listed as “Las Vegas Victims Fund” is an option for those looking to assist with recovery efforts. Also, people may text VEGAS to 50555 for a one-time $10 donation. Also, Kina plans to take #VegasStrong t-shirts to the All American Quarter Horse Congress next week, and all proceeds will go to the victims’ fund.

Given everything that has happened a little over one week ago, in a city she calls home, Kina has a new perspective. “Monday was by far the worst day I’ve ever seen in this city. As we know, Las Vegas is the place that everyone comes to let loose and have a good time. Monday was the complete opposite of that. The fear and disbelief lingered in the air. It truly felt like a dark cloud settled over the city. The usual buzz, laughter, and cheer was gone. There were very few cars on the streets, and the only people I saw walking on the strip had their heads held down. It was very eerie, to say the least.”

“It was especially difficult to look at the two broken windows that the killer shot out of, still hovering over our city. As the week has gone on, we’re try to pick up the pieces. I think the energy has grown from sadness to anger and from fear to strength. The entire community has come together to help out one another. It’s so sad that such an awful tragedy has brought everyone together, but it’s so nice to see such selfless, heroic, and angelic acts of kindness being performed in what’s otherwise known as Sin City.”

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