Virginia Tech project honors slain Martinez band member

The Marching Virginians never forgot former Martinez resident and Virginia Tech shooting victim Ryan Clark.

 

And now, the Virginia Tech band plans to further celebrate the memory of their former member, building a home in his honor for a family in need in Blacksburg, Va.

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Dave McKee, the director of the Marching Virginians, adding that “the foundation is being finished as we speak, and we will start building on May 11.”

Once started, the goal is to have the house completed in two weeks. The Marching Virginians have been working in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and established a partnership with the town of Blacksburg and the non-profit Community Housing Partners to build the home, having raised $40,000 from November to February, Mr. McKee said.

Those involved with the project say it’s a fitting tribute to the stellar Virginia Tech student, who played baritone for the Marching Virginians and was known for his own community service, having helped in Hurricane Katrina relief and with Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. Clark was one of the first two killed in the April 16, 2007 shooting rampage at Virginia Tech that took 32 lives. Mr. Clark, known for his bright smile, was a resident adviser at Virginia Tech and is believed to have been shot after hearing a commotion in his dorm and trying to protect the first victim, Emily Jane Hilscher.

Since then, there have been some local awards and a scholarship named in Mr. Clark’s honor. The house in Blacksburg is slated for a June 20 dedication. Mr. Clark’s mother, Letitie Clark, plans to attend.

“In the last two years I have been overwhelmed at the thoughtfulness of people,” Ms. Clark said. “When I was told of this project my heart grew so heavy. Not because of sadness, but because I could actually feel the smile of my child in my heart...I thank all for keeping Ryan in their hearts, but most of all for allowing a blessing to come in the wake of such tragedy.”

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