It’s been about a month since “The Run For 32” race team ran the
SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon. At the end of all things, 150 race team
members ran for 32 Hokies and raised over $20,000 for the scholarship portion of
the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund in the process.
The Run For 32 was an incredible experience! As team organizer, I arrived on
Thursday before the race where I attended a press conference on behalf of the
race team, which featured the other eight charities that were raising money as
official charity training groups of the SunTrust Rock n Roll Half Marathon.. The
local news stations from the Tidewater area were there as each charity
representative took the podium to say a word or two about our respective charity
and its goals.
I was joined at the podium by Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf who spoke
a few words about The Run For 32 and its efforts. She read a letter of
commendation, issued by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and then presented The Run
For 32 race team with a commendation on behalf of the City of Virginia Beach. I
then got to say a few words and was interviewed by several television stations.
On Saturday and Sunday of race week, we had a flurry of activity as the
Health and Fitness Expo that kicks of the SunTrust Rock n Roll Half Marathon was
held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The Run For 32 had a table at the
Expo, along with the many running oriented product vendors, where we sold long
sleeve t-shirt replicas of our race team t-shirts (which sold out on the first
day!), memorial wrist bands, and even bottles of hot sauce that one our race
team members is beginning to market. The hot sauce, while sounding a bit odd as
a way to raise money for Virginia Tech, has a Virginia Tech theme and was great
addition to our product for donations line-up.
On Saturday, The Run For 32 race team joined the Virginia Tech Alumni
Association-Tidewater Chapter for a game a watching party at Buffalo Beach (a
sports bar in Virginia Beach owned by a Hokie!), featuring the Hokies hosting
the Pirates of East Carolina. Over 125 Hokie fans attended! We raised additional
money for our cause by raffling off a Virginia Tech logo’d football, signed by
Hokies’ Head Coach Frank Beamer. We also sold the “32” logo’d wrist
bands for additional donations. All totaled, we raised an additional $500.00 for
our cause. I also did an interview with WAVY-TV 10 during the game watching
party, which many told me they saw and were inspired by our efforts. The owners
of Buffalo Beach also donated 15% of the days receipts to The Run For 32’s
Sunday morning.. Race day came early for the team. We arose at 4 AM and were
on the race course by 4:45 as we greeted race team members that had traveled
from Blacksburg after the game to run with the race team. On behalf of The Run
For 32 race team, for better or worse, I did a series of interviews with such
television affiliates as WDBJ-7 Roanoke, WVEC-13 Virginia Beach and the Fox
Sports Network. The Run For 32 race team was also present during these
interviews and I have included a picture from the morning I hope you all enjoy (click here to see it).
Before you knew it, we were off! The race had started and it was time to get
down to business. Many of us ran together for a bit, but we soon settled into
our own pace and were running in small groups or individually. There were so
many Hokies and supporters that cheered for us whenever they saw a team member
run by wearing a race team t-shirt. Each race team member also carried a
laminated card with the name of one of the 32 individuals. I ran in memory of
the wounded and survivors, a group that handled themselves with dignity and
honor as they represented Virginia Tech and showed the world what it truly means
to be a Hokie.
Everyone that started the race finished the 13.1 miles. Some ran the whole
event and some walked, but we all finished as we carried the memories of one of
the 32 with us every step of the way.
The post race celebration featured a private finisher’s tent in the Charity
Training Village right on the beach. Everyone was thrilled to be a part of the
event and we got to share our race experiences with each other, as well as a
well-earned cold beer.
It was a truly special day … one that all of you made possible with your
Joel Kelly (aka JKHokie)
Class of ’90
The Run For 32