Friends: Jessica Bingman, Gina Doubleday, Stephanie Davio (author’s sister), Chris Crosby, Kim Guzman, Stella Ernandes, Janine Reddish, Robin Darnell, and Tracie Dunwoody celebrate before the devastation at the Las Vegas Route 91 Music Festival.

Las Vegas Shooting Survivor Alive And Reclaiming Her Music

The story of my sister’s escape from the Route 91 tragedy and her journey to use her gift of life to benefit others.

In my soul I know now the good that exists in human beings. I thought I knew, but I saw it in action and I will never be the same.

My sister, Stephanie Davio, survived the Las Vegas shooting. Even as I type those words, reality sets in just a little bit more. This is going to take awhile to heal. These words force my hand to my heart and tears to my eyes. I just couldn’t imagine life without her. And I’m so sorry she has this pain I can’t take away for her. She’s my only sister, she’s a mother of two teens, she’s a daughter, and she’s thankfully alive.

As the third round of bullets rained down, I thought I might not see my children again.

Courage is underrated. There were heroes everywhere that day. They were driving trucks, they were making sure not to leave complete strangers behind, they were encouraging, and courageous, and genuine, and in the face of pure evil, they were everything that is good in this world. In my sister’s case, people helped push her over high barriers to relative safety.

My sister doesn’t want to be called a survivor because the word carries guilt. Because the term ‘survivor’ is a reminder that she made it out with the gift of life, and others did not. But somewhere beyond surviving, she is alive. And others are alive too, and unsure of how to proceed with this gift of life that was granted.

I have to go back to the music because I don’t want to live in fear.

As you read my sister’s words, I want you to know how powerfully brave she is for driving through the night to get home to us and to hug her kids. For everything she has gone through, her focus is currently on healing others who were there that day. For my sister, music is home. A place where the light is always on and the door is always open. I can’t let someone steal that from her. So, pen to paper, I will use my voice to remind her of hers, and to lift her up as she attempts to heal the hearts of others. Yes, courage is underrated.

Music can heal this hurt. It will take time, but we can start right now.

The time is now for healing and love. The shooter tried to take away what makes my sister happy in life, and she has refused the offer. She organized a tribute concert at the Orange County Marketplace one month later. She wanted to change the fear people feel by bringing them a celebration. The bands, like Kelly Band and Line Dancers, Working Cowboy Band, Top Shelf Shake, Porcelain Hill, Flock of 80’s and Pickelback Shine, were eager to donate their time and wanted to reclaim the music again too. She wanted to celebrate life, everyday heroes, honor those who were injured or lost someone, and give survivors a chance to reclaim some hope that music can be joyful again. Isn’t courage underrated?

Whoever helped push me over that fence didn’t even know me.

We are all human. And sometimes we hurt, and sometimes we love, and sometimes we survive. We get to do this life thing, with each other, and we get to show others the absolute best in who we are. We get to shine our lights to illuminate the path for others, to force out the darkness. We get to live.

The ones left alive, they are guilt ridden, maybe even angry, so terribly sorry, and grateful all at once. It should be up to them to decide the legacy, to honor, to love, to remember, and to heal. The tribute she needed to pull together is necessary for all of us to heal because we have to know that the good outweighs the bad. And for those who get to live, that connection and opportunity to find joy in such a trying time is everything. Courage is so underrated. My sister is so brave, and I’m thankful for people like her who have vision to change the world, especially in the face of evil.

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