MEDICINE HAT, AB — One year ago in Las Vegas, thousands of lives changed forever.
A lone gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 people and injuring 851 people.
It’s the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history, leaving scars far beyond Las Vegas.
Vicki and Don Boone were among the thousands in the crowd on October 1st, watching Jason Aldean perform his headlining set when the shots rang out.
“Disbelief is the first thing that comes to mind, that we would ever be a statistic like this,” Vicki said during a video phone call from the couple’s new home in Newfoundland.
The couple, along with their friends and family they were attending with, ran for cover, avoiding the bullets. They ended up taking shelter at the MGM Grand Hotel.
The shooting has had an impact on their every day behaviour.
“Even just going to the mall now, if I don’t have to go there, then I won’t,” said Vicki.
“I always catch myself watching people more often, just being curious of everyone,” added Don.
Vicki adds sirens are a trigger for her, bringing her back to the night of the shooting. She adds she cannot listen to the song Aldean was playing that night when the shooting began.
In the year following the shooting, Vicki and Don worked to put their life back together. They reached out to people they knew in Medicine Hat, speaking with them about the shooting and its impact. They moved to Newfoundland to be closer with the friends and relatives they were in attendance that night.
They’ve also found help with Country Strong, an online group made up of fellow survivors.
“It will never go away, they understand what we went through, the trauma, the daily routines of getting on with life and moving forward,” said Vicki.
The couple also got a puppy named Harley, who they’re training to become an emotional support dog.
“We have a special connection,” Vicki said. “He’s the reason that I felt safe to go out in public again.”
“He’s everything,” said Don. “From the moment we walk in the door, and even if we’re upset, he always seems like he knows,that there’s something up.”
When we spoke with Vicki last year following the shooting, she said she wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to attend a large outdoor concert again. This summer, the couple attended the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Prince Edward Island.
“We knew we had to do it,” she said. “It was extremely and a lot of tears were shed. “The first day, we went early, we scoped out the venue, the exits, the security.”
A trip to Las Vegas is not in the plans for the immediate future for the couple, noting it would be overwhelming emotionally at this point.
Vicki says October 1st will always be a day of remembrance for her.
“You have 58 people who aren’t there with us that were just trying to do the same thing we were doing that night,” she said.
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