April 16th will mark 12 years since a gunman opened fire on Virginia Tech’s campus killing 32 people. One of them was a Lakeside High School graduate. Those who knew him say he was known for giving back and tonight that legacy continued.
The lakeside high school graduate lost his life trying to save others during the tragedy. His mother says helping others was always Ryan’s platform, so she continues his legacy today by raising money for a scholarship in his name that helps local students go to college.
“To encourage others to give back to the community,“ says Ryan’s mother, Letitie Clark. “And what we want to do is just raise money so that we can encourage some young person to go to school.“
The money is raised by holding a ZumbaFest, during which the community celebrated Ryan’s life one song at a time from hip-hop to tango.
“This is an event that has grown out of passion and love,“ says Stanley Singleton, foundation chairman. “For people that know how to turn anger into a project that benefits others. That’s what Ryan’s life was about.“
Organizers say that ZumbaFest has grown tremendously over the last 11 years with nearly 400 people in attendance Saturday, a response that made Ms. Clark emotional.
“It’s overwhelming,“ says Ryan’s mom. “Each year it gets bigger and bigger. What it means to me is that people care, and that through tragedy you can still do something positive.“
The scholarships are awarded to three local students in May with the goal of relieving some financial burden.
“It might be books, it might be a computer, a laptop, anything that a college student needs that give him or her a piece of mind to be successful,“ says Stanley Singleton.
Local Virginia Tech Alum were also in attendance to support and celebrate the life of a fellow Hokie and his family.
“That’s what this button is about,“ says Robyn Williams, President of the local Virginia Tech Alumni Chapter. “Ut Prosim. That’s the school’s motto. That I may serve, and that’s Ryan.“