By ALAN SNEL
Courtney Oldenburg was at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with her boyfriend when she heard the rapid-fire pop-pop-pop of assault rifle bullets flying by her when she tried to figure out where the gunfire was coming from.
“The thing I remember most was my boyfriend pushing me to the ground and telling him I love him and wondering if those were the last words I would ever say,” Oldenburg said, near tears.
Marc-Andre Fleury and his fellow Golden Knights pals listened, and then the goaltender gave Oldenburg a hug at United Blood Services on Charleston Boulevard in west Las Vegas.
Less than 48 hours after a 64-year-old Mesquite, NV gunman killed 58 concert goers and injured more than 500 Sunday night from his Mandalay Bay hotel-casino 32nd floor room during an 11-minute shooting spree, Oldenburg still cries from the trauma and our country’s deadliest mass shooting
But Tuesday late afternoon at a blood donation center, the massacre survivor did show a smile and appreciated the visit from the players on Las Vegas’ new NHL team who have not even played their first official regular-season game. That comes Friday in Dallas.
“The fact they take time out of their busy schedules lifts my heart,” Oldenburg said. “I’m sure these people had more important things to do today.”
Actually, they didn’t.
“There’s more to life than hockey right now,” Golden Knights goalie Calvin Pickard told LVSportsBiz.com.
The majority of the Golden Knights players made the rounds Tuesday afternoon, visiting the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to support first responders, the Las Vegas Convention Center to meet victims’ families and United Blood Services.
“It’s surreal. You never think about being part of this,” player Brendan Leipsic said at the blood donation center. “I was at the Cosmopolitan. We were locked down. You never think you’ll be in that situation.”
Blood donor Dean Roberts said the Golden Knights’ appearance meant a lot to him.
“This is showing that this is heir home. They are not bullshitting. They care and you can tell by talking with them,” Roberts said.
Massachusetts State Trooper Phil Giardino recalled local Boston sports team players helping lift the spirits of Bostonians after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing as he waited to give blood Tuesday. He was in Las Vegas for a conference and decided to donate blood to help the shooting massacre victims.
“Any time there’s a sports franchise getting involved, it’s great for the city and the sport,” Giardino said.”No one forced them to come out.”
The Golden Knights, owner Bill Foley’s Family Charitable Trust and the NHL combined to make a $300,000 donation to the shooting massacre victims and first responders.
“It’s time to come together as a city,” player Brayden McNabb said. “Just being here, I hope it helps.”
From the smiles in the blood donation room, we know that answer.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com