A Kansas woman who survived the Las Vegas shooting said the tragedy has changed her life for the better.
“I feel like I am further in life than I was a year ago, that I have made a lot more accomplishments,” said Ryan Ulmen-Kyler, 35.
Ulmen-Kyler, of Lindsborg, was with her good friend Wendy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017.
“That’s the main thing that I try to focus on is all the fun and everything,” she said.
But that focus is easily blurred. What was supposed to be a memorable girl’s trip turned into a nightmare.
“We had the guy next to us that got shot and I still to this day don’t know if he made it or didn’t make it,” Ulmen-Kyler explained.
Ulmen-Kyler and her friend immediately dropped to the ground. They eventually ran and shielded themselves behind a food truck.
“Being able to feel it, the ricocheting of the bullets and stuff, knowing that you were that close and how real it was,” Ulmen-Kyler said.
The realness hasn’t worn off. It’s permanent. Ulmen-Kyler has a memorial tattoo to prove it.
“It’s kind of living proof that just the things that I have gone through and how much I have already endured, that I don’t give up. I might have the roughest days, but I pull out of it,” she said.
Ulmen-Kyler has had many rough days. Since the shooting, she’s lost a job, battled a serious illness and at times almost gave up hope. Then, something changed.
“It was like a light switch and I gave it to God. I said I’m done. I can’t carry the weight anymore,” she said. “I started looking at it differently and remembering, hey I’m here. I shouldn’t be sad. I shouldn’t be scared. I shouldn’t be nothing because I am here and life everyday is different and life is beautiful.”
It’s because of that change Ulmen-Kyler said she’s accomplished more things in the last year than she ever thought possible.
“I am doing everything I want to do now. I don’t hold back. I am crossing those things off my bucket list,” she said.
Ulmen-Kyler has found a new job. She has also become a foster parent to a 14-year-old girl.
“It’s been something I wanted to do for a long time and I’ve always just drug my feet and drug my feet and after Vegas, after a few months and realizing that, you know, my friend and I made it and God has a plan for me,” Ulmen-Kyler said.
Ulmen-Kyler hasn’t visited Las Vegas since the shooting, but she plans to in the near future. She said she just needs to convince her dad to let her go.