Route 91 Harvest Festival | One Week Ago
Tonight will be one week since the Route 91 shooting. I love country music. I go to a ridiculous amount of concerts and festivals, am absolutely a "regular" at my local country bar and I love my country family. Route 91 holds a special place is my heart and has always been my favorite west coast festival. I attended the first year, fell in love and attended the following two years. I had planned on going this year but one thing after another kept coming up which ultimately prevented me from going. It was a last minute decision not to go and what seemed like another hiccup in life actually ended up being a blessing in disguise.
That Sunday morning I woke up to videos of Brett Young that I had asked my friend Kyle (my concert/festival partner in crime) to take for me. I was so happy that he had taken the time to get them for me but also sad that I was missing it. Little did I know fourteen hours later I would be sending him text messages asking him if he was okay and trying to give him any information that I could.
I found out about the shooting from Facebook and frantically began texting all of my friends who I knew were there. It didn't matter if I hadn't seen or talked to them in months. Honestly, I messaged anyone who I knew was there regardless of if I really knew them all that well. In the midst of it all, I got a Facebook notification saying that my friend Mike, who I had attended the festival with before, wanted to know if I was safe. It hit me again that I should've been there and most of my friends expected me to be there. Thank you to everyone who contacted me to see if I was okay. Even though I wasn't there, I appreciate that you thought of me.
I couldn't sleep that night. My friend Robbie and I were listening to the police scanners, watching the news, checking up on posts and contacting our friends. I must have said it a dozen times "How does a monster do this and why did he choose this festival?" MGM hosts several festivals in this space... why did it have to be this one? I couldn't get over the fact that I was watching videos of people being shot in the exact same places I stood the previous three years. That people were crawling for their lives in the VIP tent where my friends and I had been dancing between artists. I remember we all thought it was awesome that people were joining in and putting us on Snapchat. I always loved how my photos had the Vegas strip as the backdrop and sadly, that was quickly replaced with visions of a gunfire by a cruel, heartless monster.
I know I'll never know the answers to so many questions that I have, but there are two things that I absolutely know.
1.) My love for country music and my country family isn't about the music, it's about the people who make up the country community. It's a small group of people in my opinion. San Diego only has a handful of country bars. On any given night you can go to one and chances are you will know someone or recognize a familiar face. It's about being able to walk into your favorite bar and be able to joke around with the DJ about putting your favorite dance in the queue and when they tell you they've already done it responding with "that's okay, you can still do it again later". It's about making friends all over the country. I've been lucky enough to attend CMA Fest the past two years and will continue to do so. I've met so many great people while I've been out there and now my country family is all over the country. It's about knowing that when you go to a concert, the artists are going to take the time to thank everyone who fights to keep this country safe and our freedom free. Thank you to all my friends who have either fought to keep our country safe or are doing so now. The bottom line is, I love each and everyone of you who make up my country family and I am so glad to have you apart of my life.
2.) I know that this monster wanted to intentionally hurt people both physically and emotionally. He may have succeeded in this aspect but he did not succeed at tearing a community apart. This past Friday night I was able to see some of our friends for the first time since the festival. As expected, the mood was different. People hugged a little tighter and a lot longer. We sang the words "proud to be an American" just a little louder than normal. I've never been so happy to hear my friend Jason say "Can we go to McDonald's?" While this request seems so small and insignificant, it is a pretty regular occurrence that I may not have had the chance to do again if he hadn't made it out safely. I think we've all come to the realization that our lives can change in a heartbeat and to never take for granted this life or your friends and family.
That being said, my love for country music had given me the idea to start a blog, and once I struggled to find country shirts that didn't relate to alcohol, an online store. After months of working on this, I had anticipated launching it after Route 91 knowing that I would be excited about attending the festival. Given the events that took place, this was the farthest thing from my mind. My heart breaks for anyone who lost somebody or know anybody either directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy. Life throws us curve balls all the time and I don't believe that anyone should have to go through a challenging time and have the stress of a financial burden on top of it.
As an effort to raise as much money as possible, I created a "Pray For Vegas" collection which includes men's and women's American pride and country apparel. 100% of the proceeds from this collection will be donated to victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival. As an effort to connect with individuals who are not apart of the country community or perhaps don't care for country music, I've included a few other items for purchase. So let's continue to be country strong and help raise as much money as we can for our country family. Share the link, buy some Christmas gifts, birthday presents, etc. and let's continue to help as many people as we can. Please note the estimated production and processing times for some of these items is about 14 business days.
These items can be found here.