We wanted to thank everyone who had a part in getting the 150+ homemade cards to Kim last week to be hand-delivered in Vegas. The cards just kept coming, from children all over Southern California ages 1-teen, many of whom had victims of the shooting from their own communities. The sentiment of the cards had a compassionate message for the heroes who need it most right now, as the two hospitals we visited continue to treat 47 of the 564 injured in the shooting- a nightmare they simply cannot seem to wake up from.
Kim, Infinite Smile Project founder who was in Las Vegas 10 days after the mass shooting, documented her trip to show your compassion in action, as well as to show additional acts of kindness and support making their way to Vegas from all over the country. October 1st’s shooting shook the nation, but it also has shown the unwavering power of humanity that gets galvanized in aftermaths like these.
Support from Orlando
With the Pulse nightclub shooting devastating Florida and the nation only a year ago, Orlando lends its solidarity to Las Vegas. Stars of Hope, an organization where volunteers decorate stars with sentiment for those in need, take over the trees outside Sunrise Hospital, where dozens of stars hang with messages of love and support: “What happens in Vegas doesn’t always have to stay in Vegas. You’re NOT alone.”
It’s the hashtag that has materialized as the number 1 show of support for Las Vegas victims and the community. On Friday during Kim’s visit, a crew could be seen applying signage covering the top floors of Mandalay Bay, letters 3-stories-tall forming: “#vegasStrong” against a black backdrop. A few floors below a single window stands out unceremoniously covered in plywood, a chilling reminder of what took place on the evening of October 1st. Vendors have been quick to supply #VegasStrong merchandise all throughout the city, a project that is putting 100% of proceeds into charity benefiting victim’s families and medical bills.
The name is almost a cruel irony to the Las Vegas strip hospital that saw the majority of the carnage the night of October 1st and well into the next morning. The hospital’s marquee, taken over by a grim scrolling list of names against a black background of those who lost their lives at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, replaces the usual hospital announcements. “Vegas Strong” remains the emboldened focal point of the display, printed in large letters under the names of those lost.
Memorials Throughout the Strip
Many well-tended memorials illuminate the strip, honoring those affected by the shooting. Most of these intricate shrines have been placed around town by the general public. Candles still burn at the memorials over two weeks since the tragedy. The city has designated its permanent memorial to be the Community Healing Garden, a creation envisioned by Stonerose Landscapes owner Jay Pleggenkuhle and a team of more than 1000 volunteers. The idea was conceived that surreal Monday morning, mere hours after the shooting, when Pleggenkuhle called the city and pitched an idea for a quiet healing space to promote peace through doing– all in the construction of a garden. The city gave them a quarter of an acre in the heart of downtown. It was not a hard sell. Within minutes the donations began pouring in, as did 58 donated trees- one for each life lost- and hundreds of flowers supplied by local nurseries. A remembrance wall serves as a platform for interpretive artifacts representing the victims, and a “tree of life,” a giant oak donated by Siegfried and Roy, stands as the gardens main focal point.
Local Conferences Turn to Fundraising for Vegas
Las Vegas, one of the conference center capitals of the world, is getting more than just tchotchkes in return for hosting IT summits, conferences, and seminars this month… they’re getting cash and lots of it. Tableau Software, a Seattle-based company that produces interactive data visualization products, hosted its conference at Mandalay Bay last week and raised over $90K for Las Vegas in the wake of the shooting.
12 Long Days for UMC Staff and Remaining Shooting Victims
Kim Visited University Medical Center (UMC) on Friday, marking the 12th day after the mass shooting. The hospital is treating the remaining 47 victims in its trauma unit. Staff holds a sign made by a Tustin CA girl scout troop (image below), and later presented patients with the cards that those of you addressed to recovering victims of the shooting.
Vegas at 70%
It’s the question we all are asking: how is Vegas carrying on after witnessing the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history? According to local sources, it’s functioning at about 70%. Kim spoke with dozens of locals during her visit, from Uber drivers to hotel staff, and asked them how life goes on in the wake of such tragedy. While the show must go on, there is no denying the discomfort felt by locals working in the city. The majority of shows and attractions went dark the day after the shooting, but have resumed as normal by this time, albeit with an elephant in the room. Conferences scheduled in Vegas in the days following the shooting were nowhere near full capacity and tourism is at a low of 70%. An emerging slogan for the city is “when things get dark we still shine bright,” but a majority of businesses appear to be having difficulty acknowledging what happened.
How to Help Locals if in Vegas? Ask This Simple Question:
Kim noticed something peculiar on her trip…no one was talking about the shooting. The memorials and media coverage aside, employees appeared to be going about business as usual, until Kim opened a door. When talking with a hotel employee she asked: “is everything ok?” Suddenly all walls dropped. Turns out that, no, he was not ok, and it meant the world to him that someone actually asked. Businesses have been stoic in addressing the events of October 1st, so much so that multiple industry employees disclosed to Kim that when coming to work the morning after the shooting no one even mentioned it. It’s been hard to find closure in the silence, and like in the case of Kim’s hotel authority, they’re still waiting for someone to initiate the conversation.