House will honor victim of shooting

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

And now, the Virginia Tech band plans to celebrate the memory of their former member by 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 collaborating with Habitat for Humanity and established a partnership with the town of Blacksburg and the nonprofit Community Housing Partners to build the home. They 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 helped with 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, a scholarship and local awards have been 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."