In an instant, Lisa Fine’s entire life changed.
One minute, she was laughing with a friend, attending her first Jason Aldean country music concert on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. The next, a staccato of gunshots rang out, and she found herself on the ground in the fetal position, praying she wouldn’t be killed.
The atmosphere went from a feeling of “fun, happiness, and joy” to a “war zone.” Fine tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There are no words to express the contrast between one moment and the next.”
Despite the terrifying situation she found herself in, Fine had the presence of mind to take five videos on her cellphone that night. “I wanted to capture what was happening. I was certain we were all going to die. And so I had to capture it for my family. I felt that when they found our bodies, they would find my phone and they would at least have some idea of what happened. Because it was horrific.”
The shooter, Stephen Paddock, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound later that night, killed 58 people. More than 500 others were injured.
A year after the tragic shooting, Fine, who has posttraumatic stress disorder, says, “I still can’t believe we’re alive.” She adds, “I’m not the same person.”
“I was a girl at a concert, and never in a million years did I think I would be a survivor of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history,” Fine shares. “I never thought that would ever happen. And I don’t feel like anybody ever feels that they would be a part of that. I say, unfortunately, now we all need to be prepared. We all need to be aware.”
As mass shootings become almost commonplace in the U.S. — there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive — Fine stresses the importance of not being complacent. “These mass shootings cannot become the norm,” she says. “We cannot allow that to happen. We still need to react and be outraged and tell people what’s it’s like to be on the other end and to help those that are suffering deep, deep trauma.”
Fine, who is a personal trainer and nutritionist, has managed to take the trauma she endured and turn it into something positive by helping others.
She is the president and co-founder — along with Brian Claypool, who was sitting 11 seats away from Fine during that fateful concert — of the nonprofit organization Route91Strong. “A lot of what we do with our Route91Strong nonprofit is we raise funds to help the survivors of gun violence that are traumatized,” she says.
As stated on the website of the nonprofit, which is also made up of survivors from the Parkland school shooting and a Washington, D.C., shooting: “We … understand first hand, that the healing process from these tragedies both physical and mental [is] long-term.”
Despite all that she’s been through, Fine focuses on hope. “We want to bring other survivors together, like from [the Orlando] Pulse nightclub, from the Parkland school shooting, from Vegas,” she says. “Let’s come together and bring a message of support, hope, change, and love. All together, let’s do that.”
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