By Paul T. Choate
March 5, 2012. BOONE — The “Stop the Hate, Show the Love” benefit for Erin Johnston and Sarabeth Nordstrom saw droves of people file into Grandfather Ballroom in Plemmons Student Union to show their love and support for the two women who were victims of a brutal attack on Feb. 11, 2012. People laughed, people cried, people signed the petition (now up to 7,485 signatures) and Johnston and Nordstrom told their story. They also took time immediately following the event for a brief interview, where they discussed what the support of the community and the event meant to them.
“It’s amazing. You never saw it coming and then it started off so small with a group of friends and it just grew and grew into a room full of a lot of people — most of them that we don’t even know,” said Nordstrom. “It’s just people that care and wanted to be there to support us. To realize that other people outside of just your friends actually care is awesome.”
Johnston echoed her friend’s sentiments, saying, “It’s like something that you read in books or see in movies. It’s humbling. I think having this much support in this event has changed Sarabeth and I forever. I’ve never been in a room with so much love.”
Johnston also added that reliving the events of Feb. 11 was difficult to do in front of a large crowd of people, but said that it was worth it for all the awareness it would bring to the public.
Despite having been through a very difficult ordeal, both women expressed how much the support of the community has contributed to their recovery.
“With all the support and seeing all the people who cared, we really haven’t had that much negative response like we thought or that you hear happens when something like this happens,” said Nordstrom. “It makes you feel like this is still Boone, where stuff like this doesn’t happen — yes, it did happen, but I still feel like it’s still Boone, it’s still a loving community and a very open community, and you see that from all the support and all the people.”
“I think with this event and with this petition, I think it’s going to definitely help us. Like Sarabeth said, we’re about love and not hate, and that always helps you heal,” said Johnston. “I think without this event and without all these people I would be nowhere. We would both be –“
“Locked in a room somewhere,” said Nordstrom, finishing her friend’s sentence.
“I think with this event we will both be able to jump forward a lot,” said Johnston.