Las Vegans showed their selflessness in a town known for excess

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KTRK) -- We're all familiar with those Las Vegas TV commercials where scenarios you wouldn't necessarily act out at home, get done at twice the scale in the southern Nevada desert.

After all, Nevada laws have enabled legalized gambling, 24-hour alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking indoors. You, an outsider, wouldn't be blamed for having an outlandish perception of Sin City.

This week, most of America and the world found that a real community inhabits this town way beyond the Las Vegas Strip.

Long before the darkest moment for a city known for its bright lights, the sense of community prevailed even if it didn't make the news in light of a disaster.

The movie "Pay It Forward," though a piece of fiction, was set in Las Vegas, which served as a precursor to a real life pay-it-forward campaign within the city. Widower Marcus Mitchell, a professional gambler, uses half of his winnings to brighten the lives of strangers, all in memory of his wife who died from stomach cancer.

In recent years, the various casino companies made sure Las Vegas was emboldened and empowered through the hiring of veterans. The city holds one of the largest populations of homeless veterans in the country.

This week, though, with cameras fixed on a bleakly historic event, the response to it has become way more monumental than the act that caused it.

And by any account, the response rivaled scenes that played out amid Houston's own tragedy in Hurricane Harvey.

Here are the ways Las Vegas gained a new reputation - one of selflessness:

Heroism in the chaos

As we're learning in the days after the tragedy, hundreds of different stories are emerging showcasing the immediate life-saving efforts of strangers by strangers.

Different stories of survival have come out, specifically of people diligently performing CPR or trying to close up a wound.

For those who weren't able to run away from the danger and who were virtually helpless, several Route 91 Harvest Festival attendees used whatever they could for makeshift gurneys to carry them to safety.

In a well-documented instance, a couple used their private pickup to carry four wounded victims to the hospital. In another, a public works employee drove into the danger to pick up five people out of danger.

In fact, many private vehicles were used to transport many of the 520 people injured from the attack.

As ugly and as terrifying as this scene played out, it took many of the thousands in attendance to make sure people were safe.

Businesses serving rather than profiting

People were literally running for their lives on the night of Oct. 1, 2017.

People coming from the festival grounds were seeking help from the familiar hotels that made up the Las Vegas Strip.

In the days following the shooting, Las Vegas businesses didn't think twice about offering their services to those affected.

For example, the South Point hotel-casino offered free rooms to families of victims who would be needed close by to their loved ones.

Las Vegas-based air carrier Allegiant Air offered to fly in victims' family members for free.

When it came to first responders, local businesses like Evel Pizza and Pinkbox Doughnuts made sure police officers and EMTs were fed free of charge.

Long lines at blood banks

As had been the case in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the blood donations centers in Las Vegas saw lines go on for blocks of people wanting to help the wounded. This was only hours after the shooting.

With more than 500 people in the hospital, the need for blood was going to be needed to the fullest extent.

As of this writing, every appointment available for each of the handful of blood centers has been filled, with walk-ins having to be turned away.

Material support

While it's one thing for businesses and corporations to provide support in a time of crisis, the individual members of the community served as the heart of the mass shooting response.

Many people used their own resources to donate snacks, toiletries and palettes upon palettes of bottled water for the wounded and first responders.

In fact, the surplus of items donated forced donors to be turned away.

The biggest gesture of all, though, came in the form of the Las Vegas Victims' Fund, which never got a celebrity backing from the beginning.

Started by Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, the crowdfund blew past its $1 million goal in just its first day.

As of the Friday after the shooting, the fund accumulated $9.6 million, all meant to help victims and their families.

While no tragedy takes precedence over the other, Las Vegas was as unimaginable as Houston's own dealings with Hurricane Harvey. The common bond between the two cities in time of crisis has been in the selflessness among their respective citizens.

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There are a couple of ways to help this town heal.

You can make a donation to the Victims' Fund here.

For a grander gesture, consider booking a trip to the city. For a town that's driven by tourism, every visitor is key for this community. Go see a show. Have a dinner on the side of the Strip. Trust us, you will be treated like home.

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