Frank Salzano is haunted by the Virginia Tech April 16, 2007, shootings.
Salzano graduated from Tech in 1983 as a civil engineering major. Even 28 years after leaving Tech, Salzanzo can still envision his own days in Norris Hall.
He remembers the tragedy well — a day of complete “numbness.”
After checking on his friends who attended Tech at the time of the shootings, Salzano said he was shocked — a feeling that resided within him for weeks.
“I just kept thinking, ‘Why?’” he said.
This thought motivated Salzano to give back to his alma mater in memory of the April 16 victims.
Salzano, a motorcycle enthusiast who has an apparent love for the Hokies, gathered 75 like-minded individuals to form Hogs4Hokies — a group of Tech and biking supporters that raises money for the 32 Named Memorial Endowments Fund.
The fund is divided into 32 scholarships, each named after an April 16 victim. Each scholarship has a separate fund, which must contain $100,000 to be fully endowed and awarded to someone. Once a fund is endowed, it and the name attached to it “will go on forever.”
“We just love Tech so much,” Salzano said. “(April 16) really shattered our little world. You don’t feel responsible, but you feel like it’s a family member — that’s just the way Hokies are.”
On April 30, the Hogs4Hokies will roar into Blacksburg on their motorcycles as part of their annual tribute to Tech and April 16.
The term “hog” in the group’s name stems from Harley Davidson. Salzano owns a Harley, which is painted in Tech colors.
The group hopes this year’s spirit ride will be the biggest yet, with more than 200 supporters planning to visit Tech.
Each rider is asked to donate at least $32 to support the cause, and these fees, as well as donations from other alumni, businesses and private donors, help add money to the fund.
When Hogs4Hokies visits Blacksburg, decked out with Tech memorabilia, its members gather on the Drillfield to hold a ceremony remembering those killed in the shootings. The ceremony, where university President Charles Steger will speak, will be held on April 30, around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.
“We line up 200 bikes on the Drillfield, and we ride around it a couple times," Salzano said. "I mean we completely ring that Drillfield with bikes.”
At this year’s ceremony, Dave McCain, father of April 16 victim Lauren McCain, will award the scholarship fund in her name to a recipient.
Salzanzo said he is hoping to meet an actual scholarship recipient.
After the ceremony, Hogs4Hokies will hold a dinner party in Christiansburg, complete with raffles and live music.
Salzano said the ceremony is not just about Hogs4Hokies, but what others have contributed to support the Tech community.
“We’ve had a lot of support,” Salzano said. “Even Coach (Frank) Beamer signs (memorabilia) for us to auction off.”
Salzano said although there is a stereotype about bikers, they are still human.
“You think of rough, leather, gun-totin’ guys, but these are all professionals, a lot of them alumni, or family,” Salzano said. "They are just the kind of people who want to do whatever they can to help. There’s a brotherhood there very similar to that of when you talk about Hokies.”
Regardless, the group members are still bikers, and Salzano said its hard to miss the gang when the visit town. He compared the Hogs4Hokies crew to a mini “Rolling Thunder.”
“The police get out of their cars and take pictures of us,” Salzano said, laughing. “It’s just amazing to see everyone sort of just stop and look. The noise of 200 bikes going down the road — it just makes you wanna look.”
There are four groups riding to Tech from Hampton, Charlottesville, Manassas and Richmond. The groups will meet in Christiansburg to ride to Blacksburg. The Tech Motorcycle Club will also join the group.
Salzano made it clear everyone is welcome.
“It’s all about the 32 victims, so I don’t really care what you’re in,” Salzano said, chuckling.