On March 11,Virginia Tech announced that the university would proceed with online classes and cancel events that would gather over 100 people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy applies to some of Virginia Tech’s springtime events that Hokies look forward to each year, such as The Big Event, Relay For Life and more. The students and faculty in these organizations worked all year to plan these events and only get to see their results in the spring semester.
Among these students are Abby Wiederhold, a sophomore majoring in political science and criminology who serves as a member of the Relay for Life entertainment committee, and Rissa McGill, a sophomore majoring in national security and foreign affairs who serves as task force coordinator for The Big Event.
“I helped coordinate project checks for staff,” McGill said. “A project check is where the staff goes and meets the homeowners and evaluates projects before the student volunteers go out. In the spring semester we essentially did this every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.”
Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech community will not be able to see their work come to life this year. Due to the increasing spread of the virus, the university’s decision is meant to prevent large gatherings of people that would attend these events.
“It is sad to think about the enthusiastic homeowners that rely on The Big Event that we will not be able to help this year,” McGill said. “It is also sad that new volunteers will lose out on getting to experience the great feeling of helping out and bonding with homeowners.”
Despite these circumstances, it is important to take the time to thank our fellow Hokies. Their time, work and dedication to these projects for our community and philanthropic efforts are worth far more than just the one day in which we celebrate them. Rather, all the good they do for our community should be appreciated nonetheless, especially as many of them continue to work toward their causes.
“Though Relay has been cancelled for now, we’re working with the American Cancer Society and student leadership groups to figure out what our next step is,” Wiederhold said.
Despite this obstacle in their plans as well as their own personal lives, the organizations continue to work toward their goal and find ways to make the best of this situation. We should be inspired by their motivation and follow suit as a community, especially with the extra time we’ll have on our hands.
“Cancer doesn’t stop, and neither will we,” Wierderhold said. “If you’re signed up for Relay, we encourage you to continue fundraising so we can reach our $500,000 goal, and if you’re not, now is the perfect time to sign up. We’re down, but we’re not out of this fight.”
For McGill, the cancellation only fuels her drive for next year and her gratitude to her team. As a student body, we should strive to meet that enthusiasm as well. If you’re sad about missing these events, it is all the more reason to get involved.
“Make sure to get ready for The Big Event 2021 and continue to support the community,” McGill said. “Also, I would like to thank the whole staff for the countless hours we have all put into planning The Big Event. A big thanks to our directors this year, Julia Farrell and Sam Johnson, for all their hard work. Students should definitely apply to be on The Big Event staff this fall to see what it’s all about.”
What is just as remarkable as their dedication to their causes is the grace that these organizations have exemplified in accepting the cancellations. In this trying time, it is important to follow the guidelines and policies that our leaders have implemented to lessen the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus. These organizations’ cooperation should serve as an example to all students to make sacrifices that could save lives.
“I think I speak for everyone involved with Relay when I say that the cancellation of our event in April is incredibly disappointing,” Wiederhold said. “We work tirelessly to fundraise and raise awareness about cancer. It’s certainly discouraging, but we also fully understand that taking precautions against COVID-19 is the correct course of action.”
Though this is a difficult time for many, now more than ever, it is important that we maintain our pride in our community. Dealing with this pandemic and its disruptions in our lives will be hard, but we have faced other challenges in the past together. We will get through this one as well, together as Hokies.