As 2017 comes to close, it will forever be defined in Las Vegans by those few horrible minutes late on a Sunday night, on a day now known simply as 1 October.
We still don’t know what caused the evil that took place that evening, when a deranged individual perched in a 32nd-floor hotel room at Mandalay Bay rained more than 1,000 bullets onto an outdoor concert venue on the Strip. Fifty-eight lives lost. More than 500 injured. Thousands more people whose lives will never be the same.
But out of all that horror we must also never forget the incredibly giving, positive, charitable response that arose from this tragedy. Literally from the moment the shots began.
Selfless fans and venue workers threw themselves over friends, family members and people they didn’t even know, trying to protect them from the gunfire. Many put themselves in harm’s way, guiding countless more people to safety, while others on the scene gave immediate aid to shooting victims, undoubtedly saving many more lives. People driving by stopped to load victims into their vehicles and rush them to hospitals.
Then there was the wave of first responders, from police securing the area to paramedics rolling in for frantic runs to emergency rooms around the region. And if not for the skill and caring of local doctors, nurses and medical professionals facing hundreds upon hundred of patients, the number of those lost surely would have climbed much higher.
All that was just the beginning. As the sun broke on Monday morning, there were blocks-long lines of hundreds and hundreds of people at blood donation centers around the Las Vegas Valley, citizens doing all they could to help the surviving victims. Local businesses and everyday citizens provided relief to those long-waiting donors, serving as de facto delivery drivers as they pulled up with pizzas, sandwiches, cratefuls of water and more.
A day after the shooting, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak launched a GoFundMe drive for the victims. To date, that account has raised nearly $12 million.
And on Oct. 10, in a city weary and still reeling 10 days after that horrific night, the healing power of sports once again came to the fore. This time, it was in the form of Las Vegas’ first major professional sports franchise, the Golden Knights, playing the first home game in franchise history.
T-Mobile Arena was packed, and a city desperate to be lifted up got just that before the puck dropped. There was an inspiring tribute to the 58 who died and the hundreds injured, capped by a lump-in-your-throat speech from Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland.
This team cemented itself as a good-faith partner with this community. And the same can be said of countless nameless everyday citizens across the valley.
We will never forget the terror visited upon our city on Oct. 1, and we mustn’t forget the victims. But let us also take pride in having shown the world what Las Vegas really is. Beyond the glitter and glitz, this is an incredibly giving, charitable, compassionate town. And let that spirit carry over as we turn the calendar to 2018.