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Community Comeback

Six luminaries on lessons learned, inspirations gained and hopes revived in the wake of the pandemic

Photos and interviews by Benjamin Hager Las Vegas Review-Journal

Caroline Lauzon

a.k.a. “Caro” in Ô by Cirque du Soleil

"The closure of our show taught me to not take anything for granted. Now I enjoy every day, every show, every minute, as if it is the last one. That’s definitely what COVID has taught me. It didn’t matter how much money you had if you couldn’t spend time with the people you love.”

Donato Cabrera

Music Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the California Symphony

“I realized to be an artist means more than just to perform. I, like so many people, was feeling like I was on this treadmill, this hamster wheel of ‘airport, hotel, rehearsal, concert hall.’ To be an artist you need to have a lot more insight, to be a human, in fact. You need to have that time to walk every day, to reflect. It gave me time to think about this art form, about being human and about being grateful for what I have. I realized there needs to be a give-and-take, and that I can’t do (music) all the time. … Moving forward as an arts leader, that life lesson will pay dividends in my conducting and in the way I share this music with others.”

Joe Lombardo

Clark County Sheriff, Republican gubernatorial candidate

“During this pandemic, it seemed like the science, data and information we were receiving was changing by the day, by the week, by the month. … You want to have some experience that says, ‘I know how to deal with this,’ but nobody knew how to deal with it. It was the unknown. … The important part for leadership is that morale stays up, that (employees) know we’re in it together, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gene Simmons

KISS founder, bassist and lead singer … and artist

“The pandemic forced us to spend time with family and rediscover what’s really important: our loved ones. It took away all the accoutrement: the travel, the going into the office. And now it’s introspection time ­— life, what does it all mean? That introspective time is what allowed me to really open up, and allowed me and do (my) art. … Some of it is paint, and for some of it I used gardening shears to attack the canvas to give energy. There’s not a right way or wrong way. It’s just expressing yourself. … I never imagined people would care or give me the time of day, but people seem to like it, and I’m just overjoyed.”

Steve Sisolak

Nevada Governor

“When I was elected, I could never have imagined going through a pandemic. We based our decisions on the best scientific and medical information available. … I still had people protesting in front of my house with AR-15s because we put in a mask mandate, but I respect their right to protest and encourage people to voice their opinions. There are people who sacrificed a lot. Their businesses closed down, they lost their jobs, but they still took care of each other during a crisis I hope we don’t see for generations to come.”

Shaquille O’Neal

NBA Hall of Famer, television commentator and philanthropist

“My mission is to make people smile. I don’t like talking about what I invested in or a deal I made. I like going into a furniture store, looking at a family in the layaway section and paying their bill so they don’t have to worry about it. I try to do five good deeds every day. Whether it’s taking care of a bill, taking a picture with a kid or getting someone an apartment. That’s what my life is all about. … People always say, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’ It’s simple. I don’t want to hear nothing about basketball, nothing about how much money I made. I want people to say Shaquille O’Neal was a nice guy.”

Community Comeback: Post-pandemic hopes and goals

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