Early Saturday morning, the U.Va. community came together to run in memory of those lost to last Sunday’s tragic shooting. Annually, U.Va. Peer Health Educators (PEH) hosts its 4th Year 5k run, with this being its 31st year, in memory of Leslie Baltz, a UVA student who passed away due to high-risk drinking. Separately, the U.Va. running club coordinated a 3 mile run, with each mile in memory of U.Va. football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry, who passed away this past Sunday. Both organizations came together, combining their runs to unite in one common goal: A Community of Care.
The race began with a few words from 4th Year 5k Interns, fourth-years Tripat Panesar and Alex Goldman. Panesar spoke to the audience saying, “We wanted to start by thanking everyone for coming out in support of our strong and brave community. It’s hard to find the right words this morning, as we gather together to navigate these impossible circumstances.” Goldman continued after saying, “We’re here to remember, but we’re also here to take that first step forward, one step at a time.”
President Jim Ryan stepped forward both to address the U.Va. community and lead the crowd through a moment of silence.
“This has been an unimaginably hard week, one with incredible loss but also pain and fear,” Ryan said. “I want you to know, especially the students, that you are loved, that we care, that I care about every single one of you….”
Throughout the race, staffers could be found cheering on participants. Equipped with speakers, staffers played music that could be heard throughout the course, as well as encouragement from onlookers. At each mile marker, the name of either Davis, Chander, or Perry was written.
Community members crossed the finish line past the amphitheater and onto the entrance of the South Lawn, where a UVA Strong banner was proudly displayed. Participants could collect UVA Strong stickers as well, and tables were lined with snacks and refreshments to help runners refuel after the race.
At the end of his speech, Ryan said, “I want to let you know how grateful I am and how admiring I’ve been of how you’ve cared for each other, even when you yourself have been in pain and have been struggling. I hope you’ll continue to do that because it’s the only way through something like this. The only way through this is together.”