Blissfully unaware of the atrocities taking place on the Strip, I was minding my own beeswax, at home, playing with my dogs; when a friend from Istanbul reached-out to me, via Facebook Messenger, asking if I was safe.  Having no idea what he was referring to, I sarcastically quipped that I pride myself on being safe, as a result of obsessive condom-use.  Instead of the laughing emoji I expected, he replied by instructing me to turn on the news.  I did, and I was floored. 

The first thing that I noticed, after culling as much as I could from the television; was that our city’s first responders are the real deal.  They have trained for the worst, and last night they put that training to work.  So, to Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Fire Chief Willie McDonald, and everyone at the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) and the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department (LVFRD); thank you, for your rapid and skillful deployment, in response to what you had no way of knowing would be the deadliest mass-shooting in US history.

And while the men and women of these organizations and others are to be praised; their work didn’t come as a surprise.  They’re trained professionals: It’s their job.  That they were so swift and effective is worth noting; but isn’t revelatory.  If anything, it’ll allow me to sleep a little better, knowing just how good they are.

But what did surprise me, was the incredible outpouring of compassion by the Las Vegas community.  Who could’ve predicted that by 6am, lines would have formed, in front of (and around the block of) United Blood Services?  That Uber would offer free rides to and from any of UBS’ Las Vegas facilities?  That so many people would turn-out to donate blood and food, that by early this afternoon, those donation centers were at capacity, and actually had to turn people away?

At one point, I was driving up West Charleston Blvd, and was shocked to find myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic, at 3pm.  I could not figure out why, until I saw the hordes of people, waiting, in a line that brought to mind those people who camp-out on sidewalks, before the advance-screening of the latest installment of the Star Wars saga.  There was a battalion of middle-aged people sitting on lawn chairs, holding umbrellas (to provide shade).  T-Mobile had set-up free charging stations, for those waiting in line (sometimes for many, many hours); and some clever citizens had set-up some barbeques, and were grilling burgers and hot dogs for people to eat, during their wait.

My adoration for my adopted hometown isn’t exactly a state secret.  Heck, I’ve shouted it from actual rooftops.  But I always felt that, as a community, we were perhaps a bit apathetic.  And having said that, I cannot recall ever having been more pleased, to have been proven so wrong.

Steve Sisolak (Chair, Clark County Commission) went to GoFundMe and set-up the Las Vegas Victims' Fund; and the numbers are quite staggering.  In just over one day, roughly 60,000 people have donated more than $4.3 million.  Among those who’ve given big, are Mike Tyson, Kid Rock, The Chainsmokers, Terry Fator, Florida Georgia Line, and the aforementioned Sisolak ($10,000 each); Andrew Whitworth ($25,000); Marquis Lewis (aka RETNA), the NFL Foundation, and the Oakland Raiders ($50,000 each); Kathleen & Wayne Newton ($100,000); and my pal, Stephen Cloobeck – who made eight donations totaling $390,000!  (Quel mitzvah, right?)  Furthermore, separate and distinct from the LVVF, Station Casinos has committed $1 million to support those impacted; while MGM Resorts Int'l has pledged $3 million.  

Meanwhile, a Family Assistance and Reunification Center has been set-up, in Exhibit Hall S-2, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Organized and operated by the Las Vegas Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office; the center is a safe-haven location, where family members can both gather to receive updates about their loved ones, and assist the staff of the Coroner’s office  by giving information that will assist with identifications.

So, to all of my fellow Las Vegans – thank you, for showing the rest of the world just how great of a community we are, when the chips are down. (And yes, that pun was intended.)

Click HERE to donate blood
Click HERE for info about the Family Assistance/Reunification Center
Click HERE to donate to the Las Vegas Victims Fund

Get into it!
#VegasStrong

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