The Onsite Foundation’s INSPIRE event was true to its name on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in Nashville. Onsite is a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides therapeutic workshops and mental health services, resources and programs for people experiencing trauma. Live Nation’s President of Country Touring Brian O’Connell, along with his team, were honored with the 2018 INSPIRE Award for their work helping the families of the victims of the tragic shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017, raising money and resources for those affected. Jason Aldean, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Maren Morris and more were on hand to honor O’Connell and reflect on their own experiences.
Here are some of the moving messaged we took away from the 2018 INSPIRE Awards.
“Route 91 will never be defined by what happened on Oct. 1, 2017. It will be defined by what we do going forward.”
INSPIRE Award recipient Brian O’Connell was at Route 91 the night of the shooting and in the days following the tragic event, he contacted Onsite CEO Miles Adcox to find ways to help the victims and their families. Upon accepting the award, he tearfully expressed how willpower is an important part of the healing process. “Route 91 will never be defined by what happened on Oct. 1, 2017. It will be defined by what we do going forward,” he said. “It will be defined when we come back at Route 91 and as we do more shows and as we produce more art and as we be human.”
“It doesn’t end here in Nashville.”
The tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting was heavy on everyone’s minds, including that of Maren Morris. The singer performed the night before the shooting and reflected on how she looked out into the crowd of loyal fans, thinking it was one of her favorite events she got to be a part of that year. In the days since, she’s met fans who’ve shared their stories with her, some of whom were shot or tragically lost friends that night. In the wake of Route 91, Morris released “Dear Hate” featuring Vince Gill, a song she’s seen impact people during her live shows across the world. “I think through everything that the country music has done to heal from this awful, tragic event has reminded me that it doesn’t end here in Nashville,” she says. “There truly is nothing like the music community healing and therapy that comes from this kind of thing.”
“Love is the only way.”
James Shaw Jr., commonly referred to as the “Waffle House hero,” demonstrated true heroism when he stepped in the line of fire when a gunman entered a Waffle House just outside of Nashville in the early hours of the morning on April 22, 2018. Four people were shot and killed before Shaw bravely wrestled the gun away from him, saving countless lives. He opened the program with a humbling speech about how the traumatic event has affected him, along with the work he’s done in its wake, raising more than $200,000 for the victims’ families. He encouraged others to donate to charities as a way to pay it forward, “to help us as a people, a community and as a nation to move forward and come together because love is the only way we’re going to do that,” he vowed.
“It’s not when we as a community strap arms and use our voices, it’s now.”
The passion Adcox has for his work and team was reflected throughout evening, highlighting the organization’s programs that help a vast array of trauma survivors from veterans in combat to parents who have lost a child, while advocating for the removal of stigmas around mental health. “Those of you in here that are taking a deeper look at your narrative and trying to become a better human being, that’s not what’s wrong with you, that’s what’s right with you,” he said. “It’s not when we as a community strap arms and use our voices, it’s now. It’s never been more important than now.”
“We can make our community and everybody that we touch that much better by just humanizing them.”
The man of the hour was O’Connell and the significance of the award was not lost on him, speaking from the heart about how we all need to break down the barriers between us and come together he said, “The INSPIRE Award is the person sitting next you, the person that has an opposite view of you, the person who doesn’t agree with you. We need to inspire each other. We can make our community and everybody that we touch that much better by just humanizing them.”
All of the proceeds raised through the INSPIRE event directly benefits Onsite’s trauma and grief intensive program designed for the victims of Route 91 and those who lost loved ones, which will be held at Onsite’s Nashville location. For more information and to donate, visit INSPIRE’s official site.