Omar Samaha, founder of the VTV Outreach Team, took up cycling in remembrance of his sister Reema, a victim of the April 16, 2007, campus shootings.
“When I cycle, I do it in her memory; when I compete, I have her in mind,” Samaha said. “I ride not just for myself, but for her, as well as the other Hokies that were lost or injured that day.”
Samaha founded the VTV Outreach Team with the help of his cousin, Tommy Fadoul, to honor his sister and promote the vision of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation.
“Our goal is to benefit the VTV Family Outreach Foundation and to bring awareness to its mission: campus safety,” Samaha said.
In addition to cycling competitively in Washington D.C., the VTV Outreach Team hosts an annual cycling event to honor the 32 victims lost in the April 16 shooting, and raise money for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation.
The Second Annual VTV Remembrance Century Challenge will be held Saturday, April 28.
According to Samaha, last year’s event was planned somewhat last minute, but nonetheless produced a successful turnout.
“The event came out really well,” Samaha said. “There was a real sense of remembrance and honor for the survivors and victims.”
With only 12 riders participating in last year’s event, the VTV Outreach Team was able to raise more than $10,000 for their name
Similar to last year’s event, cyclists this year can either participate in the “Remembrance Loop” or the “Honor Loop,” which are 100 miles and 32 miles, respectively.
Registration to participate costs $50 for the “Remembrance Loop” and $32 for the “Honor Loop,” with payment also including VTV Outreach team membership, a team jersey, lunch and dinner.
The “Remembrance Loop” will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Cyclists will complete the first 68 miles and return to the inn to combine with the “Honor Loop” at 1:00 p.m. The entire group will then finish the final 32 miles together, ending on the Drillfield.
Aaron Shapiro, a member of Fadoul’s fraternity at James Madison University, participated in the ride last year and is signed up to participate again this year.
“Last year was a launch year, so it was tougher to get organized,” Shapiro said. “I expect a more robust crowd and hopefully it will be a good time for everyone.”
Shapiro, a VTV Outreach Team member, is an avid cyclist, who was eager to participate in the event and support the cause.
“I am most excited to try to tackle those crazy hills in Blacksburg,” Shapiro said. “I am doing the 100-mile ride which is definitely a challenge for me. There is even a concern of whether I will be able to finish.”
Shapiro related the challenge of the race to the event’s cause: honoring the victims.
“The cyclists are out there giving it all they have, raising money and doing something challenging for this cause,” Shapiro said.
In addition to raising support for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, Samaha views this event as an opportunity to engage the community.
Following the conclusion of the race, participating cyclists will meet up with Hogs4Hokies — a motorcyclist group that also holds an annual ride in remembrance of the 32 victims — on the Drillfield for a memorial ceremony.
After the memorial ceremony, Outback Steakhouse will be catering a celebratory dinner and Paranormal, a classic rock band, will be providing live musical entertainment.
“We really wanted to bring in the school and the community, so we were thinking we could just party out on the Drillfield,” Samaha said.
Samaha hopes the festivities will draw in more people and expose them to the VTV Family Outreach Foundation and its mission for campus safety.
“I love to meet new people and bring them into the VTV foundation; we are a very open, caring community,” Samaha said. “We love to be around the Tech community and get them involved in what we are doing: advocating for campus safety.”
While the event’s festivities will add excitement and likely draw a larger crowd, Samaha ensures the mission of the event remains the same.
“We try to embody Hokie spirit, so we are riding for more than just our race,” Samaha said. “We have a lot of meaning and thought; we are out there riding in remembrance — every single time we ride.”