April 15, 2024


It's the Technology

Area’s biggest blood drive memorializes Virginia Tech victims | Nvdaily


Megan Ferrell was 12 years old when a mentally disturbed undergraduate opened fire on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, killing 32 people and wounding 17 others.

On Monday, 15 years and two days after the massacre, the now 27-year-old Ferrell was overseeing a Frederick County blood drive held in memory of the victims.

Ferrell, a 2016 graduate of Virginia Tech, is vice president of the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, an organization that oversees an annual blood collection event in memory of the victims of April 16, 2007. Since the association’s first blood drive was held in April 2008, it has grown to become the biggest collection each year for the Greater Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“An amazing group of folks has taken this on to commemorate all of the positive things about Virginia Tech, and it’s going to make such a difference,” said Leslie Caliva, community volunteer leader with the Winchester-based Red Cross chapter. “We’re still in a [blood] shortage [due to a pandemic-related decrease in donations] and facing the usual summer shortages. We’re delighted to have this kind of support in the community.”

Ferrell said 135 people signed up to donate at the blood drive, and there were no indications that Monday’s freak snowstorm would keep any of them away.

“I think it’s twice as many people as last year,” said Dave Compton, pastor of congregational care at Fellowship Bible Church at 3217 Middle Road near Winchester, which hosted the collection event.

As snow and sleet fell on Monday morning, Compton opened the memorial blood drive with a prayer.

“Our hearts are warm as we use this event today to remember those folks, those students who lost their lives,” Compton said. “It just seems like yesterday, dear lord, when all this happened. … We are using this day to donate blood so that maybe other people can have a new life.”

One of the men holding hands in the prayer circle was Stephens City resident Dennis Bluhm, whose son, Brian Bluhm, was among the students killed on April 16, 2007.

Frederick County resident Angie White, a 1984 graduate of Virginia Tech, said she never misses an opportunity to roll up her sleeve in memory of the 32 victims.

“I’m a regular blood donor, so I plan my donations from Christmas to April just so I can give on this date,” White said, referring to the Red Cross’s required 56-day waiting period between blood donations.

Once donors finished giving blood, they were directed to Fellowship Bible Church’s lobby where snacks, drinks and a free boxed meal from Chick-fil-A awaited.

“We’ve been a part of it for all 15 years,” said Keri Mounts, marketing director of the Chick-fil-A restaurants on South Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester and in the Rutherford Crossing shopping center in Frederick County. “I’m a Virginia Tech alumnus, my sister is, my family is. Tech is in the family.”

Ferrell said about 35 of the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association’s 50 members volunteered to help with Monday’s blood drive because they continue to live by Virginia Tech’s motto of “Ut Prosim” — Latin for “That I may serve.”

“For 15 years, this is what we’ve done to help,” she said. “We like to go bigger and better each time.”

For more information about the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, visit shenandoah.vt.alumnispaces.com. To schedule a blood donation with the Greater Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, visit redcrossblood.org.


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