“I remember everything that happened,” said Adam Lissak, an alum from the class of 2003. “I just started working and saw the news come on, and it was hard to watch (the shooting), being somewhere you have such good memories.”
According to Megan Hughes, the associate director of the university’s Department of Recreational Sports, the first annual event was in 2009 after people asked to commemorate the victims through a physically active event the year prior. The department then took on planning the event.
“What they were hearing from people is that this is one of the way(s) they wanted to honor the lives was to move or have a walk or a run, so it just kind of fell to the recreational sports department because it was in line with our mission and what we do,” Hughes said.
Tyna Hesser, a junior majoring in geography, decided to participate in the run after the event was held virtually in 2020 and 2021.
“So being a junior now, when I came in freshman year, specifically one of things I was excited about was being able to participate in the event,” Hesser said. “We pretty much lost that about a month before freshman year. I still participated virtually, but I knew every time that I did that, so freshman year (and) sophomore year, I was like, ‘Ugh, I can't wait for us to finally have it in-person again’ and just be physically together as a community, being able to walk, run, whatever you want to do through the event and seeing everybody cheering you on and just being there for you is a really powerful thing.”
Maddie Fortner, a junior in international studies, volunteered at the event as part of her work with the Department of Recreational Sports.
“I work with the Department of Rec Sports, and I really wanted to give back, and I felt that it would be a fun way to serve my community and honor the lives that were lost by helping others who are running the event,” Fortner said.
Olivia Dinh, a senior in accounting and information systems, felt that Virginia Tech has come a long way since the tragedy in 2007.
“I remember when I was touring here, before I even got here, they said a lot about like the blue lights and just making sure the VT alerts (are) on your laptop and your phone and your email,” Dinh said. “So they emphasize that a lot, and I think that was a really good thing.”