1 October survivors join students, activists in Las Vegas 'March - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

1 October survivors join students, activists in Las Vegas 'March for our Lives'

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1 October survivor Stephanie Wellek discusses the impact of the 'March for Our Lives' rally (FOX5). 1 October survivor Stephanie Wellek discusses the impact of the 'March for Our Lives' rally (FOX5).
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Survivors of 1 October joined students and activists at the March for Our Lives rally in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday morning.

Survivors said students organizers invited them to share their stories.

Stephanie Wellek made the trip from California to speak at the march. The last time she was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival grounds, she said she only remembers hearing gun shots and running as fast as she could.

This is her first time back in Las Vegas since that night. She called this march an important step in her healing.

“Instead of thoughts and prayers, we are protesting,” Wellek said on stage. “There are thousands of Route 91 survivors marching today to make sure no one forgets!”

“This is not just for me -- for my healing process. It's for all survivors. It’s for these kids,” she told FOX5 after the march.

Wellek said right after Parkland, she couldn’t even watch the news.

[RELATED: Thousands take to Las Vegas streets to call for gun control]

“They had video. they had interviews,” she said. "And everything that they were saying on TV took me back to when I was at Route 91, being interviewed, in that place, in their shoes. I just couldn't watch it. I just turned it off.”

But now she is ready to stand with students to demand change.

“I’ve never done a rally,” she said. “This is my first one.”

Wellek admitted that at first, she worried about her safety if she came to this march.

“I am a Route 91 survivor and I am scared to be there,” she said. “I don't know if someone will try to attack our group.”

She said she understands talking about guns and mental health can light a firestorm of debate.  

“So when you have that sensitive of an issue, yeah, I felt that getting on stage would make me a bulls-eye – a target,” she said.

Before getting on stage, she tried to get a bulletproof vest.

“The first thing I thought of is, ‘I'm going to be in an open-air space; and there's going to be buildings around me where someone like Stephen Paddock could set themselves up and fire away,’” she said.

But she said these students moved her to speak up at any cost.

“You are about to see a huge reckoning,” Wellek said. “These kids mean business. They cannot be bought. I saw it firsthand. It's the most powerful thing I've ever seen.”

Wellek said marches like this only prove the strength of survivors.

“We have one thing in common -- we've all been shot at, and we survived,” she said. “So we give respect to each other, while offering hugs.”

Wellek said it’s a group no one wants to join, but survivors must rely on each other for support.

“Ask any single one of us -- we are sorry to include you in this family,” she said. “But we understand, without each other, people won't understand. So we welcome you with open arms, but we cry for you as you enter.”

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