WEOURSTORY With Kelly Culbertson and Christina Kitcat


We may never know exactly why on October 1st, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing 58 people in the largest mass shooting in modern American history. What we do know is that our human narrative displayed its unpredictable nature as many stories came to an abrupt end on this dark night. And although the events took place in a certain setting, those deaths have been felt across the entire world.


Many are the stories of the lives lost. Many were the journeys that brought them to this place. Some came with elaborate plans amid the music: a reunion with old friends, a wedding anniversary, even a marriage proposal. They were school teachers and youth football coaches, real estate agents and local business owners. They were parents, siblings, husbands, wives, neighbors and friends. At least 59 of them never made it home.


Then, there is the story of Christina Kitcat and Kelly Culberston. The California couple were in Vegas as a birthday gift for Christina, who turns 30 next week. Christina Kitcat, 29, and her boyfriend, Kelly Culbertson, thought they were hearing fireworks when gunshots rang out at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival Sunday night.


“I’m like, why would somebody bring fireworks? Why did everybody disperse?” Culbertson told the Daily Beast. “Then another round of fireworks goes off, and she looks at me and says, ‘It’s hard for me to breathe.’”

Christina was shot in the heart during the Las Vega massacre.

“Blood was pouring out of her chest,” Culbertson said, and he recalled applying pressure on her lung and trying to make sure she was still breathing.

“Kitcat was going into shock and drifting in and out of consciousness,” Culbertson said.

“She’d come back, look at me. I’d say, ‘Babe, are you with me?’ She’d smile. She kept saying, ‘I’m going to go to sleep.’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re profanity not.’”

And she didn’t. Doctors say it is a miracle Kitcat is alive. A bullet tore through her arm and into her heart and lung. It left four holes in her heart and holes in her lungs.


"Im going to sleep." I'm like, "No, you're [profanity not]."


In the midst of tragedy, we find a love story saturated with themes that we long to experience.  There is something about the human spirit that desperately wants to be both rescued and rescuer. 

Tragedy comes at the most unexpected of times. It’s just the way the human narrative works. Christina, nor Kelley, nor those who lost their lives, nor the thousands of others that were affected by this horrific event knew this would be part of their story. Yet as we journey through life, life happens. 

Truth is, none of us know what our next hour will look like. We don’t know what life altering or world changing event will be part of our story. All we really have is this moment. Because of this, we should live each moment as if it were the best moment, because it could potentially be our last moment. We take nothing nor anyone for granted. Surrounding ourselves with people and places that remind us to keep breathing and not sleepwalk through life is golden.

I’m captivated by the unconditional love Kelly displayed to and for Christina. His refusal to let her die was fueled by his ferocious desire for her to live. When her heart was wounded, he put his hands on her heart and stopped the bleeding. When she found it difficult to breathe, he became her breath. When she wanted to drift into a potentially permanent sleep, he kept her awake.

My hope is to live in such a way that I breathe life into others. I want to remind people to dream, especially while awake. That I would inspire people to imagine more, dream more, create more and live more. I hope to have the courage that Kelly Culbertson displayed. That I would love people, step into their tragedy, touch their hearts and help “stop the bleeding.” 

Just because we are alive, doesn’t mean we are living. Just because we have breath, doesn’t mean we are breathing. Sometimes, it takes someone who loves us enough to step into our tragedy, touch our hearts in such a way that reminds us to not fall asleep on life—to continue to live each moment as our best and potentially, last moment. 


Just because you're alive, doesn't mean you're living.


I salute you Kelly Culbertson. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your heroism.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s still not time to [profanity] go to sleep.


Alright my friends, may we live today a story we'd like to tell tomorrow.


Joel GonzalezComment