Today’s run was all about remembrance.
Monday April 16th marks the five-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre which led to the death of thirty-two people at the Blacksburg campus.
To commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy a group of about 250 Virginia Tech alumni gathered in Rock Creek Park today to run a 5k race in honor of those who were lost.
The race was a 5k length for a reason: 3.2 miles for the 32 lives that were lost that fateful day.
“This helps a lot, seeing the DC metropolitan area, the community of Hokies,” Gaffar Chowdhury, a VT alumnus, a Junior during the time of the shooting said today, “getting together and sharing this experience it make it a lot more soothing.”
One of the two-dozen survivors who were injured in the attack, Kristina Anderson, organized today’s event. She was shot three times, twice in her back and once in her toe, in Norris Hall by Seung-Hui Cho. She has had her gall bladder and most of her kidney removed.
She was a runner before the tragedy. And is, years later, back to being a runner now.
“For the first month and a half I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk, I could do some of the normal things I would normally took for granted,” Anderson said today, “So it’s more of a reminder now that I’m lucky and I survived and overcame.”
Anderson organized today’s race through the non-profit, Koshka Foundation, she created, aimed that helping future victims of school violence. The goal today was to unite the DC area Virginia Tech community as the five-year anniversary approached.
“I want people to come together on this day and not just be sad or think about the shooting but also remember what it means to be a Hokie and a student, “ she said.
But for some the memories were too fresh to put behind them. And today’s race was a moment to remember those lost.
“There’s a lot of people who aren’t here today to run this race. And that’s what I’m going to be thinking about the most , “ Sean Glennon alumnus and football player said, “There’s no better way to get through an anniversary of a very difficult time than for everyone to be together.”
Most of the runners participating today were on campus attending classed the day of the shooting. Today they said they still struggle with the memories so events like today help in the slow grieving process.
“I think about it quite a bit, probably more than I should,” alumnus Brendan Borrell said, “These types of things are pretty cathartic for people to you know be together with people who might have had the same experience as you.”
Today’s event was part reunion, part therapy session. More than sharing experience and memories of that tragic day, friendships were renewed, hugs were given and running was the common language.
“It’s difficult to talk about,” alumnus Jeff Twigg said, “and I think running a race gives you a time to think about what’s really important to you and you get some personal space but you also get to share that with other people.”
Running together, one step at a time, toward the long road to recovery.