Great Bend woman remembers Las Vegas shooting, finds hope with therapy dog

Local

A woman in Great Bend says she is still dealing with the tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting both mentally and physically, but she has had some help along the way.

Meet Winston.

“He really helps me when I have like a panic attack or anxiety attack,” says Kaylin Hillegeist.

Kaylin is his owner.

“It is nightmares, flashbacks, and a lot of break downs,” she explains.

She is a survivor of one of the worst mass shootings in recent history.

“I didn’t think I would have as strong a feeling as I did. I am really sad just thinking about this whole day and how everything went down a year ago,” says Hillegeist.

She remembers being close to the stage when she heard the sound of fireworks.

“We looked into the sky and we didn’t see any fireworks. Then, he started playing the third song and that is when we realized they weren’t fireworks,” she says. 

That’s when she says chaos broke out.

“We saw people get shot. My uncle was laying over me and protecting me. I just kept thinking, ‘this is how I am going to die.’ Any part of my body that was showing I was thinking that is where I am going to get shot.”

Now, she struggles with PTSD.

“He just senses it. He will make me calm and hug me and make me feel a lot better,” she says.

Hillegeist got Winston 10 days after the shooting, as a therapy service dog.

He didn’t listen to well on Monday, but he is just what she needed.

She is doing much better now thanks to a close relationship with her sister, and of course Winston, but this day is still not easy.

“I kind of felt guilty,” she says. “Asking myself why did I survive when others didn’t?”

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