Six weeks after a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival crowd, victims are still trying to piece their lives back together. For many, the month and a half after the Las Vegas shooting created more questions than answers.
Now, a Facebook page called "Find My LV Hero" hopes to help find some clarity and closure. The page aims to connect Las Vegas victims with the strangers who helped them that terrifying night.
"After seeing several posts of locals expressing their incredible gratitude for 'that guy' or 'that girl' who helped them escape, I had a thought," page founder Ashton Zyer says. "There should be a place where these people who want to find those that helped rescue them can go to connect."
A Las Vegas local who had family at the concert, Zyer says she considered starting a website but instead went with a Facebook page because they're so easy to share. She posted it to her own artist page not long after the shooting and within 24 hours, the page made its first connection.
Now, Find My LV Hero has more than 4,200 followers and 150,000 shares. Many visitors to the page want to find those they met at the festival. Find My LV Hero posts images and descriptions of those looking to connect.
The page reposts different users looking for those they helped, or those who helped them. So far dozens of people reconnected using the page. "Unfortunately you can't read about all of them on the site as I've started removing them to help cut down on the posts in order to simplify the searching process for people," Zyer says.
For many, the experiences provide some closure. On Nov. 10, Jenn Gibson posted that she found her hero, a man who stayed behind in an effort to save one of the deceased, Carrie Barnette. She and her hero spent the day together visiting memorials, toasting Barnette's memory and retracing their steps that evening.
"Anxiety was high," Gibson posted. "I felt weak and scared. I'm grateful I was able to do this and so glad they were by my side. A few pieces of my heart have been put back together today. I'm so happy to call you all my family."
The page is a wonderful reminder of how important it is to find community in tragedy. Most of these people are still complete strangers to one another, but they do what they can to connect others. In a time when many are quick to mistrust and others use social media to sow seeds of hate, Find My LV Hero is a beautiful testament to the power of Facebook.
Still in need
But it's also a reminder that Las Vegas victims still need a lot of help. Outside of online help resources and a White House proclamation honoring victims, federal government action remains essentially nonexistent.
That leaves it to ordinary citizens to step up. The Las Vegas Victims Fund formed after donations poured into Clark County Commissioner Chair Steve Sisolak's GoFundMe page. The new nonprofit now takes care of distributing the funds that come in from those donations.
To date, the Las Vegas Victims Fund raised nearly $11.5 million from more than 87,000 people. While people from 80 different countries donated, an amazing 20,000 of those people came from Nevada alone.
Country stars continue to do what they can to donate to victim funds and drive awareness. Carrie Underwood's emotional In Memoriam performance at the CMA Awards featured the images of all the victims of the attack.
— Carrie Crazy Dreams (@c_crazydreams) November 9, 2017
Victims from California and Nevada qualify for assistance from state governments, a fact the states are desperate to make sure people know about. It's just going to come down to people sharing the information.
As far as helping Route 91 festival goers reconnect, it can be as simple as a share. "This is the best way to help the mission," Zyer says. "If people would go on daily and just hit share on the new posts, that would greatly help extend our reach."
Zyer shares a story of another connection made just this week to exemplify that point. Chris found Zack lying by a dumpster, suffering from a gunshot to his lower back. Chris stayed with Zack and applied pressure until an ambulance came. They only exchanged first names, but Chris promised he'd find Zack on Facebook.
When the page first went up, Chris reached out, hoping to find Zack. This week, Zack's girlfriend Lauren learned about the page. She posted, looking for Zack's mystery hero. "But Chris had beat her to it, and when Zack's post surfaced yesterday he was beyond excited to find him," Zyer says. "They're looking forward to reuniting soon."