Alek Skarlatos, an American hero who helped saved hundreds of lives by thwarting a terrorist this summer, may have had the favor returned thanks to his participation on Dancing With The Stars.
Skarlatos, a 22-year-old Sacramento native who served in the Army National Guard, was slated to attend Umpqua Community College this fall, the site of the deadly shooting that claimed nine lives last week at the tiny Oregon campus. Due to his participation in Dancing With The Stars, Alek took the semester off, People reported.
"I would've been there today if I didn't agree to do this show," Alek Skarlatos said during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday. "I had classes picked out and everything."Skarlatos, who appeared on the show with Dancing With The Stars partner Lindsay Arnold, went on to talk about the community and campus at Umpqua Community College where Alek last attended in 2014.
"I had classes in Snyder Hall [the site of the shooting]. It's a fairly small community college. The town in general, everybody knows each other. So with that many deceased, I mean everybody's going to know at least one person."Skarlatos, who along with two other friends derailed a terrorist attack on a French train this summer, caught the eye of Dancing With The Stars show co-executive producer Deena Katz, who convinced Alek to join the show, the Inquisitr previously reported.
The shooting affected his practice time and concentration on this week's routine for Dancing With The Stars, Alek admitted prior to his performance. "This week has been really hard," Skarlatos said. "My mind and heart has been with Roseburg."
"Once I found out about the shooting, I just started calling all my friends and family. I felt totally helpless, like there was nothing I could. I just felt like I needed to get home, and I did as fast as I could."The Dancing With The Stars film crew followed Alek to the Oregon school, and Skarlatos continued to explain his feelings as part of the introduction to his dance routine."This is where I went to college, and this is where I was planning to return to college," Alek said about Umpqua Community College. "It's where I felt like I belonged right now."
Yet his return trip to Roseburg, Oregon, did not have a feel of normalcy, Skarlatos said.
"Being here under these circumstances, it just doesn't feel the same. I mean, this isn't the quiet town that I left. I would have had classes that day. It's honestly the strangest emotions I've ever felt because even the train made more sense than this does. It's just a disarming feeling because you can't do anything about it. There's nothing you can do."After their dance, Erin Andrews asked Alek how he got through the dance with the emotions he experienced this week. Skarlotas gave an answer typical of a humble hero, deflecting the attention from him to the victims' families of the Umpqua Community College tragedy.
"I don't feel like what I went through was anything special. I know the families' there have been going through so much worse. I just hope that everybody's prayers go out to them, and the whole town shows them their support."Skarlatos and his dance partner Lindsay received 24 points out of 30 total possible votes. Skarlatos was praised by Arnold for his ability to make it through the trying week. "He's incredible," she said of Alek. "I'm so incredibly proud of him for going out there tonight and doing his absolute best." What do you think about the Dancing With The Stars performance by Alek Skarlatos? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
[Image credit by Alek Skarlatos/Instagram]