Survivors of Aurora shooting gather for Nashville convention - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Survivors of Aurora shooting gather for Nashville convention

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A dozen survivors of the mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater are in Nashville this week as the one year anniversary of the tragedy approaches.

The group is attending an annual convention for the organization Friends: The National Association of Young People Who Stutter. While the convention this year is in Nashville, last year it was in Denver.

And in the Denver suburb of Aurora, they went as a group to the movies to catch a midnight screening of the highly anticipated film The Dark Knight Rises.

One person in the group was shot, but each of their lives has been forever changed after that night. And the shared experience that night has also brought them all closer together.

"To me, it doesn't feel like it's been a year," said Gage Hankins, of Ohio.

Hankins, 19, was hurt when a bullet came through the theater wall and hit him in the arm.

"I turned around and I saw the right side of his shirt was already covered in blood," said Steve Ostergaard, of Illinois.

Ostergaard was the chaperone that night, and remembers a frightening scene.

"I was hiding behind the popcorn machine scared half to death, because there were 10 other kids in there that I was responsible for," he said.

Ostergaard carried an injured Hankins into the movie theater lobby, and came face-to-face with the shooter.

"I looked to the left and there was this man standing there trying to reload his gun," Ostergaard said.

You might think after such a tragedy that this group would be too scared to go to another convention or another movie, but that's not at all the case.

"It was one of the most horrifying experiences I've ever had, yet I look back at last year's convention not with fear and sadness, but with gratitude and love," said Melia Schurig, of California.

For more information on the convention visit: https://www.facebook.com/friendswhostutter?id=453405651393817.

In addition to Hankins, Ostergaard and Schurig, the other survivors include Meghan Walton, of Colorado; Ryan, Haley and Pete Ruden, of Iowa; Joe and Brendon Popovich, of New Jersey; Linnea Schurig, of California; Jackson Hankins, of Ohio; and Katie Trakel, of Wisconsin.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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