THIS IS THE first thing you read on Natalie Weisel’s Facebook page and it perfectly sums up this incredible woman. On the night of Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. Natalie was among those 546 injured and her story of perseverance and survival is truly incredible.
Jlife: Can you describe what you remember from that day? How were you feeling that morning before the horrific event?
It started off normal. We arrived at the concert and about an hour a half later the few first shots went off. I felt the worst pain in my face; it took me a second to register I had been shot. A stranger behind me gave me her shirt to keep pressure on my face, which was profusely bleeding. So many thoughts raced through my mind. I had just celebrated 10 years of being in remission from Stage 2 breast cancer, and I knew I couldn’t survive cancer to die at a concert.
Jlife: You are an inspiration. How are you feeling today?
Today I am in between major procedures, so I am trying to enjoy life a little bit before the next surgery. I’m also dealing with some survivor guilt. I try to keep my eye on the light at the end of this tunnel, I know I will get there if I stay the course.
Jlife: Who would you like to thank and who has helped the most on your journey to recovery?
The list of thank-yous is so long! My husband Jason, of course, has been my rock and he has been by my side unconditionally. My parents, in-laws and siblings have all stepped in and been crucial in my recovery. My large extended family, circle of friends, and co-workers, Jason’s co-workers have been nonstop in their love and support. I’ve been blessed with amazing doctors, nurses and medical staff who have taken phenomenal care of me.
Jlife: What do you want people to take away and learn from your incredible story?
Life is a very precious gift, never to be taken for granted. Never give up hope, no matter how much darkness there is; the light will always prevail. I hope that people read my story and know that no matter how scary life gets, you can get through it. There are a lot of good, kind, caring people in the world.
Jlife: How has the Jewish community supported you during this time?
The Jewish community has really rallied around me. From Chabad to Reform temples- there has been so much support. I have received letters from sisterhoods all over the country sending me well wishes. I’ve had six different rabbis visit me, all sources of great wisdom and strength for me. I honestly feel that our Jewish community has kept me grounded in my faith by showing me so much genuine love and support.
Natalie’s story is one of survival and hope. I had the chance to hear from Natalie’s stepmother, Lori Weisel: “We are so very grateful for the outpouring of love, support and get-well wishes for her that we’ve received from the Jewish community.” Pearl Grumet also had this to add, “We are so thankful for everybody that helped; from the stranger at the concert, to everyone involved in saving her life and the lives of everybody else.”
For more information please visit Natalie’s Facebook Page:
www.facebook.com/warriorNatalie/ and GoFundMe Page:
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works as the Manager of Operations at Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County.