Edinboro alumnus, survivor of Vegas shooting tells his story

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Edinboro alumnus Kody Robertson, dubbed “Uncle Kody” by some new friends, was at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada when a shooter opened fire from a window of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Robertson, almost immediately, began to help the people around him escape the bullets. It’s unknown how many he assisted that night, but he was “just trying to help as many” as he could.

Robertson was at the festival with a group, but made an unexpected friend on the third and final day of the festival. Michelle Vo, an insurance agent from California, was there by herself. She and Robertson instantly connected, he said. 

“It felt like we had been friends for years,” Robertson said. “You ever just meet somebody and feel like you’ve known them for a while? It was that kind of thing.”

Robertson describes her as having a “magnetic personality,” always smiling and laughing. Vo died from the injuries she sustained during the shooting.

Robertson looked into Vo afterwards and tried to figure out more about her life. While doing so, a lot of her friends and family reached out to him to tell him more about her. 

“It was just story after story about people saying she was one of the nicest people they’d ever met,” he said. “She always had a smile, she always had a laugh — kind of the same feeling that I got when we first met.” 

As Robertson was talking with her family and some of her friends, he saw that on a lot of Vo’s social media posts, she used the phrase “#KeepGoodGoing.” Robertson asked her family what it meant, and they explained that at New York Life they used the phrase often with their community service outreach. 

“She never met a stranger, it was always a new friend,” Robertson said was another of his discoveries. 

Robertson said Vo’s family put the phrase on a ribbon and some other items at her service. About a week before Robertson flew out to California for her service, he had some T-shirts made with the phrase “#KeepGoodGoing” placed on the front. He gave them to some of her family members and friends, and one friend told Robertson  she was starting a scholarship in Vo’s name called Michelle’s Table. Robertson immediately thought of the idea to sell the shirts as one way to raise money for the scholarship.

“I’ve done two of them now (fundraisers), and we’ve raised a little bit over $3,000 just from selling the shirts.”

Robertson has also made it his goal to give a shirt to each of the 36 artists who played the Route 91 fest in October. As of this past weekend, he’s given them to 10 people.

“My big thing with giving them to the artists is I wanted them to connect to Michelle and kind of know a little bit about her and what she stood for,” Robertson said. “Like most people, they probably saw the pictures and the names of people on TV and might have read a little about each one, but I wanted, essentially, the artists to actually connect, to know her story and carry on her message and maybe it does some good.”

Another point of the shirts, Robertson added, is to “pass along good vibes, get a smile on someone, do a random act of kindness, [and] just be nicer to people.”

He continued, “It’s just a nice way to push more positive vibes out there and keep people up and be happy and just try to provide more good in this world.”

He said he hopes once they give away the first scholarship, they’ll be able to raise more funding for the future ones. 

Robertson noted that he still deals with triggers and flashbacks from the shooting.

“I always try to — even on the bad days — I try to make myself not have a bad day, no matter how bad it is, no matter the feelings that come up,” he said.

He continued: “I counteract them by remembering the good memories, and I try to work through it and make myself enjoy each and every day as much as I can and look for the beauty in every day...I’m not going to let it affect the way I live and what I do and what I enjoy.”

Robertson learned earlier this month he’s now an honorary “Uncle Kody” from a woman he saved from the shooting, Vanessa Esquivel, who was pregnant. Esquivel posted on Facebook about her son being born, along with the caption: “Thanks for helping save me. You’ll forever be my hero Uncle Kody.”

“It was awesome,” Robertson said of hearing the news. “That’s the first time I’ve cried tears of joy since it’s happened.”

If you want to donate to the Michelle’s Table scholarship, visit their website

Dakota Palmer is the executive editor for The Specatator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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