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Relatives run in memory of Virginia Tech victims

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Relatives of victims and some of those injured in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings were among about 4,000 runners and walkers who raced Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the rampage.
The 3.2 mile event was in memory of the 32 people killed by student Seung-Hui Cho before he took his own life. Other events including a noon ceremony and an evening vigil were planned later in the day.
The race began with the release of 32 white balloons in memory of those slain. Runners also released hundreds of balloons in the school colors of maroon and orange.
The crowd of runners included several students hurt in the mass shootings and family members of victims.
Lolly Miller, whose daughter Heidi Miller was injured in the classroom building where Cho killed 30 of his victims and himself on April 16, 2007, said she’s more comfortable on a treadmill, but thought it important to enter the race.
"It’s all because I want to be there for the people who died," she said.
Heidi Miller also planned to run, as did most of the 12 injured students still on campus, said Debbie Day, head of the school’s Office of Recovery and Support.
Fred Cook, an engineering student who injured an ankle when he jumped out a second-floor classroom window to escape the gunfire, took up running after he recovered and has since done several marathons and triathlons. The injured students thought the race was a good idea, he said.
"It’s certainly something that’s bringing the community together here," Cook said.
Classes had already been canceled, but the response to the "3.2 for 32" race was so great that the school also delayed opening offices until midmorning to avoid traffic jams.
A noon ceremony was scheduled on the main lawn to honor the accomplishments of the 27 students and five faculty members killed.
Plans also included an open house in a new peace center that occupies a refurbished classroom wing that was the site of most of the killings. A candlelight vigil at dusk was to be the final event.
About 100 relatives of victims and injured students returned for the memorial ceremonies, a few more than last year, Day said. Many still find it too painful to return, said Joseph Samaha, whose daughter Reema Samaha died.
Suzanne Grimes said memories came flooding back when she arrived Wednesday at the hotel where she spent 28 days while her injured son, Kevin Sterne, was hospitalized.
While most families accepted an $11 million state settlement and agreed not to file suit, some remain critical of school officials’ actions the day of the shootings. Samaha said he wanted to come to campus not only for the anniversary events, but also "to work on bridge-building."

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Relatives run in memory of Virginia Tech victims

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Relatives of victims and some of those injured in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings were among about 4,000 runners and walkers who raced Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the rampage.
The 3.2 mile event was in memory of the 32 people killed by student Seung-Hui Cho before he took his own life. Other events including a noon ceremony and an evening vigil were planned later in the day.
The race began with the release of 32 white balloons in memory of those slain. Runners also released hundreds of balloons in the school colors of maroon and orange.
The crowd of runners included several students hurt in the mass shootings and family members of victims.
Lolly Miller, whose daughter Heidi Miller was injured in the classroom building where Cho killed 30 of his victims and himself on April 16, 2007, said she’s more comfortable on a treadmill, but thought it important to enter the race.
"It’s all because I want to be there for the people who died," she said.
Heidi Miller also planned to run, as did most of the 12 injured students still on campus, said Debbie Day, head of the school’s Office of Recovery and Support.
Fred Cook, an engineering student who injured an ankle when he jumped out a second-floor classroom window to escape the gunfire, took up running after he recovered and has since done several marathons and triathlons. The injured students thought the race was a good idea, he said.
"It’s certainly something that’s bringing the community together here," Cook said.
Classes had already been canceled, but the response to the "3.2 for 32" race was so great that the school also delayed opening offices until midmorning to avoid traffic jams.
A noon ceremony was scheduled on the main lawn to honor the accomplishments of the 27 students and five faculty members killed.
Plans also included an open house in a new peace center that occupies a refurbished classroom wing that was the site of most of the killings. A candlelight vigil at dusk was to be the final event.
About 100 relatives of victims and injured students returned for the memorial ceremonies, a few more than last year, Day said. Many still find it too painful to return, said Joseph Samaha, whose daughter Reema Samaha died.
Suzanne Grimes said memories came flooding back when she arrived Wednesday at the hotel where she spent 28 days while her injured son, Kevin Sterne, was hospitalized.
While most families accepted an $11 million state settlement and agreed not to file suit, some remain critical of school officials’ actions the day of the shootings. Samaha said he wanted to come to campus not only for the anniversary events, but also "to work on bridge-building."

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