“It didn’t register at first, but then I saw him pointing the gun, and it immediately clicked in my head that this is really happening,” said SCV resident Katelyn Dolder.
Dolder, 20, is a survivor of the mass shooting that killed 12 people at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks last November.
Dolder, 20, frequently drove up to the bar with her friends to go line dancing, and says she never skipped a Wednesday night, no matter how busy she was.
“It’s just a place where we all felt safe and all the stress and the worries went away,” Dolder said. “Everyone always had a smile on their face, and we would always have a good time.”
Dolder was separated from her friends when the shooter entered the bar that night and had to jump out of a window to safety. She and the friends she went with survived, but she says the shooting still hit her really hard emotionally.
“For the first four days I didn’t sleep, I didn’t really eat,” Dolder said. “Once I started to process it all, I just sat there and I cried and cried. It was hard to process because you don’t really understand why this had to happen at a place that you love.”
After the initial shock wore off, Dolder made sure to keep busy and never be alone. It didn’t take her long to return to line dancing, but it was running that really helped Dolder cope.
“It’s always a relaxer for me and a time where I get to be by myself and enjoy time outside,” she said.
Running had always been a second hobby of Dolder’s, but after the shooting, she says she just wasn’t motivated.
Dolder had already signed up to run the L.A. Marathon prior to the shooting, but almost dropped out after being so behind in training.
“I really kicked my butt December through February to get myself back up in the mileage,” Dolder said. “At that point, you’re supposed to be running a lot — and I just wasn’t.”
And as she began training again, she quickly realized that running was going to help her recover.
It was then that she got the inspiration to dedicate the marathon not only to the victims of the shooting, but also the survivors, she said.
“I want to show people that even through that hard time, I got myself up again,” Dolder said. “I turned running into a therapy of determination and motivation to keep going and not look back at it.”
Dolder says she had a tough time deciding how to show her dedication, but in the end, decided to write each victim’s name on a popsicle stick with “Borderline Strong” on the back. Each two miles, Dolder stopped and took a photo with the popsicle stick and the mile marker in the background.
“I want to show dedication to the ones who didn’t make it,” Dolder said. “But the last mile is going to be dedicated to the survivors, because as survivors, we had to live through it and are going to have to live with it forever, so I thought they should be included, too.”
Dolder believes she will always remember that night at Borderline, and says there are still times where she tenses up and thinks, “Am I safe tonight?” But she hopes that she can inspire others to also move on and keep going with life.
“Those who are still struggling should keep reaching out to people and keep having a positive mindset,” Dolder said. “It’s hard when you continue to lock yourself up and let it get to your head more and more. Find something that you love and that will distract you and help you cope.”
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resources
When communities experience episodes of violence or natural disasters, the incidents can be difficult for children and adults to understand. We can’t always prevent the difficulty associated with such tragedy, but the following organizations can offer help in processing these traumatic experiences in the healthiest way possible.
The SCV Child & Family Center
This local resource center for children and adults offers an extensive network of resources for those seeking help with mental health and services, which is centrally located in the Santa Clarita Valley. Address: 21545 Centre Pointe Pkwy, Santa Clarita. Phone: 661-259-9439 Site: childfamilycenter.org
COC Student Health Center
Another local resource that offers mental health counseling, as well as eight free sessions to students who are currently enrolled in the college.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America
The ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety and mood disorders, and PTSD, and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them through education, practice, and research. Site: adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
The National Center for PTSD
This center is a government organization dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. One of its goals is to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma. Site: ptsd.va.gov
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
This organization is run by a group of elected and unelected volunteers from the various trauma-related disciplines around the world. They help to inform policy and engage in advocacy to ensure that the voices of those affected by trauma are heard by policymakers at the local, national and international levels. Site: istss.org
The above information was shared from the National Alliance on Mental Illness website: nami.org