Florists at convention in Las Vegas use donated flowers to create memorial for shooting victims

(ABC NEWS) -- Philadelphia florist Susan Davis was in her hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night preparing to speak at an annual wedding convention the next day when her hotel went on lockdown and sirens began to blare.

Just miles away, suspected gunman Stephen Paddock was opening fire on thousands of attendees at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

 

When Davis and her colleagues learned Monday morning that the shooting had killed 58 and left more than 500 injured, they stepped into action to do what they could to help, spearheading an effort to create a memorial for the victims' families.

“We figured there wasn’t a place for families to mourn because you couldn’t get to the site,” said Davis. “That’s what florists do, we show up at the best times and the worst times in people’s lives.”

Davis’s wedding convention was being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the same spot where local officials opened a family assistance center for victims’ families to gather.

Davis, of Philadelphia, and another convention speaker, Sarah Campbell, of Maryland, reached out to Mayesh Wholesale Florist to donate flowers.

“Our location is about five minutes for the shooting,” said Sharon Hearne, manager of the Las Vegas warehouse. “It’s in our backyard. All of us knew people who were affected and we’re all devastated.”

The company donated nearly 600 flowers to Davis and Campbell to create a memorial outside the family assistance center at the convention center.

“We didn’t have any supplies or any staff, we kind of just jumped into action,” Campbell said. “As florists, our way of dealing with things and showing emotions is flowers.”

Dozens of florists, attending the conference from all over the country, volunteered to help. Within one hour, the group created a blanket of flowers, with the idea of a blanket creating warmth for the families.

Above the blanket of flowers are more flowers designed to appear as angel wings.

Within moments of the tribute being completed, family members and friends of the 58 victims began to appear.

The first person to visit the memorial was a father whose daughter’s friend was killed in the shooting.

“He said it gave him a place to start mourning and paying respect,” Davis recalled.

© 2017 ABC News


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