The Rebels Project (TRP) held their 2nd Annual Survivor Gathering July 28-July 29 in Colorado. Survivors from over ten different mass tragedy communities from across the United States gathered to connect, share, encourage, and inspire each other.
Through fundraising efforts, TRP was able to fly in five survivors from outside of Colorado. Visiting Rebels stayed at the Holiday Inn-SW Littleton who generously donated rooms for the weekend. The first event was a Happy Hour on Friday evening at Sportsbook Bar & Grill where survivors had the opportunity to socialize and ‘let their hair down’ in an environment where everyone understood what they have experienced. This is a rare, unique experience for survivors of mass tragedy. Sarah Maldonado, a survivor of the 2012 Azana Salon mass shooting in Wisconsin, expressed “I love the support of other people who have been through similar situations. It’s comforting and makes me feel a great sense of ‘normal’”.
Saturday, July 29, began with a visit to the Columbine Memorial and a mindful yoga class led by Laurie Ann Works, survivor of the 2007 YWAM/New Life Church mass shooting, in Robert F. Clement Park. Laurie Ann lost her two sisters in the Colorado Springs shooting and has used yoga for her healing journey. She has since become a yoga instructor who focuses on resilience and is dedicated to assisting others on their healing journeys.
Later that afternoon Survivors gathered for a luncheon at Meridian Golf Club. Coni Sanders, who lost her father in the 1999 Columbine shooting, delivered an inspirational message focused on grieving in your own way. Her message reminded survivors that everyone grieves differently and to be mindful not to judge our own or anyone else’s grieving process.
The Survivor Gathering wrapped up on Saturday evening with a ‘Pizza-Q’ in Littleton, CO. Survivors attended with their families to enjoy pizza, play games, and continue socializing. It was the perfect ending to an eventful weekend.