It is not only the current students, staff and faculty that remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on April 16, 2007 — but also the alumni.
Frank Salzano, 1983 Tech graduate of Civil Engineering, remembers his days spent in Norris Hall, and recalls the day that changed how he'd view that memory forever.
In order to pay respect to the 32 lives taken that day, Salzano took small steps to create the largely recognized motorcycle ride, Hogs4Hokies.
“After the shootings I felt like I just wanted to do something for the Hokie Nation,” Salzano said. He promptly had his own 2007 "hog," or Harley Davidson motorcycle, painted Chicago maroon and burnt orange to showcase his Hokie pride.
The first ride took place in the spring of 2008, after the one-year anniversary of the shooting. The motorcyclists will be rolling their bikes out again this weekend, six years later.
Dave McCain, who lost his daughter in the shooting six years ago, has participated in the ride every year. Salzano described McCain as having “a heart of gold and the nerves of steel.”
“I ride to remember my daughter Lauren along with the other 31 lives that were taken that day,” McCain said. “I ride to remember good days, and reconnect with friends that I have met through the Hogs4Hokies.”
More than 160 motorcyclists and friends gathered for the cause the first year.
“I lead a line of bikes two miles long, and I look in my rear view mirror and I see nothing but headlights,” Salzano said, describing the start of the ride. “It’s neat when I can’t see the end of the line, and I realize how many people we have supporting us.”
With more than six meeting locations across Virginia and North Carolina, the hope is to increase participation in the future.
“We rely on the ridership of course, because that’s where the majority of the money raised comes from,” Salzano said.
Each rider is charged $32, with the money distributed equally between the individual scholarships in the Virginia Tech Victims’ Fund. In the first five years, the ride has donated over $62,000.
“That’s kind of what drives us, hearing and knowing that our ride and our money is really benefitting kids that want to go to Tech,” Salzano said.
Salzano’s goal for the program is to eventually raise at least $100,000 in memory of each victim.
Once the herd of Harleys, sport bikes and other motorcycles rounds the drill field, there is a ceremony honor those lives they ride for.
“The first lesson of history is if we forget the past, we have to relive it again. The remembering of that day prevents from not ever going through it again,” McCain said. “This is how we choose to remember that event.”
This year the ceremony will include dinner catered by Outback Steakhouse, as well as a band at the summit of the trip.
Amazed by the support from this event, Salzano hopes the last Saturday in April of every year in the future can be used to continue raising funds for kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to join the Hokie Nation.
“It really hits home to those who are related to victims to think that maybe this loss wasn’t completely in vain, and hopefully there’s something good to come out of it, and that’s what we want to accomplish,” Salzano said.