Country music’s biggest stars will take the stage in Las Vegas for the ACM Awards on Sunday.
But before that, a group of 1 October survivors were treated to a special sneak peak of the awards show.
It was set up by the ACM and the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center. They invited more than 100 1 October survivors and their families to a rehearsal.
“We walked in not really knowing what to expect,” Corey Roveri said.
The ACM posted a video on Facebook of the event. It captures the shock and gratitude of 1 October survivors the moment they met some of country music’s biggest stars.
“Before we knew it, Reba was standing right in front of us,” Roveri said. “She shook everybody's hand. It was incredible.”
The group got the watch Jason Aldean rehearse his new song before Sunday’s awards show.
“The artists have just embraced us all,” survivor Denise Burruel-Smith said. “And I think that's just amazing.”
Burruel-Smith and Roveri were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. They remember the moment Aldean’s performance was cut short.
“When was first going off, I thought like everyone else, it was firecrackers,” Burruel-Smith said. “I was on the phone with my son, letting him know I didn't know what was happening.”
To see Aldean on stage again, the pair said it’s simply surreal.
“He shares what we went through. He was on stage,” Burruel-Smith said.
"He was a class act,” Roveri said.
After performing, the stars, Aldean, Rhett and Reba, even walked into the audience to meet each survivor.
“For them to come up and take the time to shake everyone's hand, give a hug, take a picture, let us talk and tell them our stories, that was the biggest thing ever,” Burruel-Smith said. “That's exactly why I love country music. We are a huge family and we forever will be.”
For these survivors, this year’s ACM award show is especially meaningful, with their tie to country music even stronger.
“You have to go to concerts, you can't let hate win over love, ever,” Roveri said.
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