Just days after a country music concert in Las Vegas became a scene of mass carnage, country performers came together once again Wednesday night in the City of Lights. But the scene on Wednesday was one of raw emotion and solidarity, a tribute for those who died and the heroes who risked their lives trying to save others.
The event at Stoney’s Rockin Country in Vegas raised money for victims of Sunday night’s Las Vegas massacre and their families.
“For everyone to be able to come together under one roof and hear each other’s stories and see that everyone’s OK, there are no words,” said Jenn Lewis, who attended the benefit and was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where 58 people died after gunman Stephen Paddock went on a deranged killing spree from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Strip.
Justin Holmes, who’s both a member of the Air Force and a musician, said he had been trying to help all week and finally found his opportunity at the concert.
“I was born listening to country music. It’s always been about helping your fellow man. The songs always seem to touch your life,” said Holmes.
Holmes said he loves the adrenaline rush he gets when the crowd sings along, but wanted to make sure Wednesday’s performance was all about the people.
“We’re here to provide fellowship. Provide a place where they can come and cry, laugh, talk relax,” said Holmes.
There were many hugs and tears at the event. It started with all first responders and survivors from the massacre receiving an extraordinary ovation. The crowd then sang a very emotional national anthem.
“I’m getting the chills all over again, just all over again. That’s what life is all about is people showing gratitude for life, humanity,” said Jeff Higginbotham, Stoney’s General Manager.
One of the event’s organizers was hero Marine Taylor Winston, who found a car in the parking lot of the festival and used it to drive injured concertgoers to the hospital.
“I think that I have an important role here to help spread some positivity and joy,” said Winston.
Before the event started, Winston had an extremely emotional reunion with two sisters he saved Sunday night. The women wanted to remain anonymous, but told Winston how grateful they were that he helped, and that they were incredibly happy they got the chance to thank him in person.
"We just felt a blanket of safety come over us," she told Winston.
The woman said she remembers seeing Winston as he drove her and she could have painted a picture of his face, but had no idea who he was.
"It was an unspeakable tragedy that we all were a part of. But to see what happened afterward was incredible," she said, referring to everyone who donated blood and risked their lives to help others.
She told Winston that she guessed that he was law enforcement or military because he was incredibly calm. She was truly in awe of Winston's unflustered demeanor.
"You saved so many families futures," she said to Winston.