Sports helped the VT community heal

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Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, his wife Laura, and the Hokie Bird pose for a photo at the start of the 3.2 for 32 Run in Remembrance on Saturday.

From the sidelines
Marty Gordon
NRVsports@ourvalley.org

Remembering what happened at Virginia Tech 10 years ago took on a different memory for me this week. I had stepped away from the news world for two years and started traveling around the country with Coca-Cola doing marketing two new drinks—Vault and Monster Energy Drink.


I kept my home in Christiansburg but traveled around the country, going to NASCAR races and college football games in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. That day in April, I was in the New River Valley with plans to setup free drinks and sampling in front of the library on the Virginia Tech campus.

Initially, the plan was to be there at 8 a.m., but for some reason, my alarm clock did not go off. I was late but still headed to Virginia Tech.

Members of the Virginia Tech Ranger Corps endeavor to carry a large pole along the 3.2 for 32 Run in Remembrance course on Saturday morning.

By the time I got there, people around the world were hearing about what happened at Virginia Tech. I was loaded with ice cold drinks.

When I arrived at the entrance, I was met by a roadblock. I had now heard the news of what had happened two hours earlier. I was starting to see how bad the incident had been.

Because of my past relationship with local law enforcement, I pulled into a command post where I offered cold drinks for all the officers and emergency personnel.

I was thanked and handed out drinks to men and women that were in a state of shock. I don’t know why my alarm clock did not go off that morning, but I was thankful for not being on campus during those early hours.

I saw the despair in the eyes of many of those same law enforcement officers I had gotten to know over those years in the media while living here. I wondered what would ever take our minds away from what had happened.

A few days later, it was football coach Frank Beamer that seemed to lead us out of the fog. He spoke to the victim’s families and it was clear sports would help us to heal. Sometimes that does happen.

A month later, the New York Yankees stepped up and came to Blacksburg for an exhibition game with the Hokie baseball team.

Fans were wearing maroon hats with the New York logo. Again, sports took our minds off the tragedy.

Sometimes it takes a distraction to ease our pain or to bring us back together.

Runners and walkers make their way along the 3.2 mile course around the Virginia Tech campus.

For the past nine years, the 3.2 Hokie Remembrance Run has also done that. I salute everyone that walked, ran, walked their dog or pushed a stroller as part of this event. It helped us to remember but also continued to help us to heal.

For one weekend, we were all Hokies.