Vegas Strong Fund says it won’t be cutting any more checks

The Vegas Strong Fund said Monday that it will not be issuing any more checks to victims of the Oct. 1 shooting, but will donate half of all money raised to a separate nonprofit, the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund.

A week before Christmas, the Vegas Strong Fund cut 12 checks to survivors totaling $14,800. More than 17 other survivors, like Henderson resident Raquel Rooks, were expecting money that never came.

“We’re really the good guys,” said Caesars Entertainment Corp. executive Jan Jones Blackhurst and the chairwoman of the Vegas Strong Fund. “I don’t think apologizing for doing the right thing is appropriate.”

The Vegas Strong Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created by the Nevada resort industry, has around $12 million in cash and commitments from companies within the resort industry. Blackhurst declined to give an exact figure Monday, but said a number would be given by Jan. 31.

The fund never intended to give money directly to victims or survivors, but did so as a “one-time” distribution to 12 people, Blackhurst said. The decision was an “emotional reaction over the Christmas holiday,” she said, adding that additional distributions were “never meant to be repeated.”

The emotional reaction was in response to a plea for help over the phone Dec. 20 from two survivors of the shooting, Jennifer Holub and Christine Caria, and a victim advocate, Anita Busch.

She said, she said

Blackhurst said it was communicated at the time that the 12 checks would be a one-time distribution, but Busch disagrees, saying it was her understanding that the Vegas Strong Fund agreed to provide ongoing financial help for people with immediate financial needs.

Click image to enlarge

An email obtained by the Review-Journal that was sent Dec. 21 by the Vegas Strong Fund to Holub and Busch states, “the members of the Vegas Strong Fund are very willing to work with you and your group to help those survivors and families that need immediate assistance. I can coordinate information to facilitate our members helping those families who are in need of this immediate help. Our access to resources in the coming days may be limited due to the holidays, but our members are interested in providing immediate assistance.”

The three women immediately began reaching out to acquaintances who needed help and asked how much money they needed for food, shelter or other needs. They passed that information along to their contacts at the Vegas Strong Fund, and then checks were sent out Dec. 23.

Between Dec. 24 and Dec. 29, the three women submitted claims for an additional 17 individuals totalling $40,222.43 and notified the victims that money would be on its way. Shortly after on Dec. 29, a member of the Vegas Strong Fund sent another email.

“The Vegas Strong Fund is analyzing a number of requests for continued support and evaluating how to have the most positive impact for all victims,” the email said. “The board of the Vegas Strong Fund is not, however, comfortable with continuing to issue checks to survivors because we are not in a position to either vet these claims or accommodate all the financial requests you and your team are submitting.”

A survivor’s lament

Rooks is one of those who thought she’d be receiving financial assistance.

A single mom of 17-month-old twins, Rooks worked as a bartender at the Route 91 Harvest music festival to get ahead on her bills.

“My friend had done this event three years ago, and she made over $2,000,” Rooks said. Instead, Rooks said she “ended up really, really behind” with around $750 from working the event, a fractured toe, post-traumatic stress, and constant anxiety.

Rooks said she has taken out two high-interest loans for $300 each and is two months behind on her car payment and one month behind on rent.

“I’m just trying to get by every day, and I just pray that I have a roof over my head and for my kids, and I pray that I stay calm,” she said.

She said she felt relieved when she thought $2,600 was coming her way from the Vegas Strong Fund.

But on Dec. 31, she got an email saying the money wouldn’t be coming after all.

“This is really a sad day for me,” Rooks said then.


Blackhurst said the Vegas Strong Fund was never set up to process claims, and is still not prepared to do so.

The fund was originally set up to “support long-term needs of the community” Jones said. “As the area’s largest and most visible industry and employer, we feel we have an important role to play as Las Vegas heals from this horrific event.”

The half of the money raised that will not end up with the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund will go toward supporting the long-term community needs that have not yet been identified.

The Vegas Strong Fund hired the National Center for Victims of Crime to assess what those needs are. Blackhurst said the assessment will be completed within the next 90 days. (Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“Our group wants to look at the ongoing needs of the numerous community organizations and first responders who continue to serve and help so many.”

The Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, a separate 501(c)(3) that was set up on behalf of Clark County following the shooting to receive public and private donations, currently has more than $22 million that will go to those who fall into one of three categories specified by the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund committee.

Contact Nicole Raz at or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter. (Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Las Vegas judge’s ruling will halt tonight’s execution
On Wednesday Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a ruling that will halt the execution of convicted murderer Scott Dozier. Alvogen Inc., which makes the sedative midazolam, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the Nevada Department of Corrections of surreptitiously obtaining the drug for use in an execution.
3 people shot in southeast Las Vegas
Three men were shot Thursday night in southeast Las Vegas, and two of them have life threatening injuries. Las Vegas police responded to the incident just after 10 p.m. on the 5000 block of Mountain Vista Street. The investigation is in its early stages and police were unable to describe the suspect or say how man people they think were involved. Police encourage anyone with information regarding this shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555, or 3-1-1
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Two robbers who recently targeted three Las Vegas businesses remained at large Tuesday and police are asking the public to help identify them. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
LVMPD Looking For Robbery Suspect
The LVMPD Commercial Robbery Section is attempting to identify the pictured suspect who is responsible for committing robberies to businesses in the southern part of the Las Vegas Valley during the month of May 2018. The suspect enters the business, threatens the employee with a firearm and demands money from the register. The employee complies and the suspect flees the business.
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead at 2500 block of Ellis St., on Friday, June 8, 2018. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
1 dead in shooting at southwest Las Vegas home
A dispute between roommates led to the fatal shooting of one man in the backyard of their southwest Las Vegas Valley home on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like