If there is any hope to be found in the wake of unfathomable tragedies like Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, it is the countless moments of heroism, bravery, and unity that emerge in the days and weeks to follow. From husbands laying down their lives for their wives to fathers protecting their children, the heartbreaking yet inspiring stories coming out of Vegas prove that, even in the face of evil, good always prevails. One such example of a young Marine selflessly protecting a woman he barely knew has gone viral on social media and is sure to warm your heart.
Los Angeles native Renee Cesario shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page the incredible story of how a chance encounter with an off-duty Marine may very well have saved her life. Cesario said she met Brendan Kelly just two hours prior to the Jason Aldean show at the Route 91 Harvest festival, during which 64-year-old Stephen Paddock allegedly opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay hotel across the street. Though she was attending the concert with friends, Cesario explained that she had decided to move closer to the stage with Kelly, and the two were having a great time until the shots began to be fired.
"Brendan and I met only 2 hours before the Jason Aldean show. I left my friends so we could go up super close to the…
“Brendan and I met only 2 hours before the Jason Aldean show,” she shared on Facebook. “I left my friends so we could go up super close to the front for the end of the night. We were just dancing and having fun and then all of the sudden there were loud noises that sounded like fireworks, but no lights were going off. It stopped, and Jason Aldean kept playing but then the shots fired again and he ran off the stage.”
Cesario went on to say that before she even had a moment to process what was happening around her, Kelly had already sprung into action—tackling her to the ground and shielding her from the hail of bullets and barrage of fleeing concertgoers.
“Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire. It stopped again and he looked around to see what was happening and then it just kept going,” she wrote. “He looked at me and said ‘We have to get out of here. We can’t stay here. It’s not safe.’ Then he pulled my arm up to get me out of the piles of people. We had no idea who was dead or who was alive. We just started to run.”
Showing not the slightest bit of fear, Kelly managed to maneuver both Cesario and himself safely through the crowd. Cesario recalled Kelly’s unbelievable calmness and thoughtfulness even in the midst of such chaos.
“He kept telling me it was going to be okay and to keep running until we were safe,” Cesario said. “He even let me use his phone to stay in touch with my sister so she knew I was safe, which is the text you’ll see. The whole night he didn’t leave my side.”
In addition to sharing the remarkable story, Cesario also shared a screenshot of the text messages Kelly shared with her sister, Jenn, once they had safely sought cover.
“Thank you sooo much from the bottom of my heart for taking care of my sister… seriously. Have a safe night,” Cesario’s sister wrote to Kelly before adding: “You’re awesome.”
Humble as ever, Kelly was quick to downplay his efforts.
“Absolutely, that’s what we do, take care of our own and those around us. Glad I could be there for her in that crazy time,” he replied. “More than happy to do it, Miss.”
Facebook commenters were quick to laud Kelly for his heroism, while hopeless romantics in the group predicted Cesario and Kelly would one day marry.
“I’m am truly humbled that in our darkest times, the truly greatest from within and amongst us emerges,” one man commented. “God Bless this young man and everyone that in that split instance put the lives of others above themselves.”
(H/T: Love What Matters)