For members of the Virginia Tech community, April 16 is a heartbreaking day.
“Everyone can remember where they were, whether they were in the state of Virginia, whether they were in another part of the world,” said Vicki Culbreth, the President of the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.
But year after year, Culbreth’s chapter chooses to remember the 32 victims of the deadliest school shooting in America with service.
“As a Hokie, our motto is ‘Ut prosim.’ ‘That I may serve’,” she said. “And this is part of us living out that motto of Ut prosim. And we just want to make sure we’re honoring those people. It’s important that we remember what happened at Virginia Tech, from being on campus to be off campus.”
In 2007, the chapter organized a blood drive soon after the shooting took place, and every year since, alumni gather to give others a chance at life.
“Each unit of blood collected will help three people live,” said Doug Ewell, who has served as the blood drive’s chairman for the past eight years. He says their goal is 100 units of blood–enough to save 300 lives.
With online registrations and walk in’s, Ewell expects to exceed that goal. He asks anyone, whether they’re affiliated with Virginia Tech or not, to donate blood if they’re able.
“No matter who you are or where you are, it’s good for the community,” said Ewell. “If you can do it on a day like today, that’s even more special but if you can donate blood, please do that.”
Alumnae Jan Symons, who graduated in 1997, has donated blood for the past five years.
“This was actually the first blood drive that I ever donated to several years ago,” Symons said.”I’ve been donating ever since.”
Culbreth says on Tuesday morning, she and other alumni laid flowers at the victims’ memorial in Sherando Park in Stephens City, Virginia.
On Saturday, the group plans to return to the memorial to clean up the garden.
“We’re just committed to honoring and remembering the victims that lost their lives that day,” Culbreth said. “We will prevail. We will remember. We are Virginia Tech.”