Charity work for veterans distracts Colorado men from horrifying mass shooting memories

The event's called Rock 4 Wreaths. It's not the first year for the fundraiser, but this time it felt a little different for the organizer, Mike Grapner.

NORTHGLENN - On Sunday afternoon, @Cheers pub in Northglenn transformed into a venue for charity. Several bands entertained the bar's audience as Wreaths Across America raffled off items and raised money to place enough wreaths on veterans' graves over the holidays.

The event's called Rock 4 Wreaths. It's not the first year for the fundraiser, but this time it felt a little different for the organizer, Mike Grapner.

He said the event wasn't just a fundraiser, but also a chance to establish normalcy after a chaotic time in his life and hopefully escape terrifying memories.

A week ago, Grapner was at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas. He was with his fiancee in the middle of a big crowd, watching Jason Aldean perform when a gunman shot and killed 58 people and injured hundreds more.

Grapner said he, his fiancee and a friend dropped to the ground during the gunfire. He said he then crawled over the others to act as a shield because they could not tell which direction the bullets were coming from. According to him, this happened a few times before they were able to escape the danger zone.

"We just ran like hell," he said. "We grabbed people as we could and pulled them out."

Grapner's friend, Robert Kirk, was nearby at the MGM casino during the shooting. He said he had no idea what was happening until he saw a lot of people running and screaming.

"Some guy just looked at me, he was on his phone, and he just looked me in the eye and said, 'There’s something major going on down the strip,'" Kirk said. "He thought it was a terrorist attack."

Both men told 9NEWS they thought there was a chance they might not survive the shooting. A week later, they are now reunited at Kirk's bar with nothing on their minds but helping veterans.

"This is pretty cathartic for us," Grapner said. "It has diverted attention away from the replay that continues in my head."

For a few hours, both Grapner and Kirk will try to shut off their memories as they work to raise $12,000 dollars for Wreaths Across America.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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