On Monday, I launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the hotel and travel costs for uninjured survivors to attend the ten year anniversary of the VT shooting in Blacksburg, VA. In 3 days, my campaign has raised 3,835 dollars, received 417 Facebook Shares, and 73 donations. The campaign has already raised enough for the hotel rooms for my classmates and me, but there are still other uninjured survivors that need funding to attend. Donations have come from friends and family, Virginia Tech alumni, and many others I have never met. Support and kinds words have been sent my way from JMU, Columbine, and others, and I am so appreciative.
Before launching this campaign, I was worried, excited, scared, hopeful, and anxious – all at the same time. (My counselor taught me you can experience multiple emotions at one time. Thanks Michelle!) My first donation was from my younger brother. I started crying when I got a notification that a donation was made. I was excited, but still felt vulnerable. I texted my brother, “I am so nervous. Especially because people can be mean or the campaign could fail.” He responded, “Forget about them!” Thank you, Geoff, that was exactly what I needed to hear.
The past few days have been a whirlwind. I’ve had discussions with GoFundMe employees and interviews with Roanoke Times and Collegiate Times writers. I feel like I’m communicating with Virginia Tech officials through the media; it’s weird.
I want to tell Virginia Tech that I don’t blame them for the events of 4.16 and that it’s not their fault what happened that day. But when we gather for the ten year anniversary, I do want to talk about that day, and when we’re tired, we’ll take a break and then talk about it some more. Because holding it in won’t work for me anymore. Actually, it never really worked for me. I did that for 8 years too many. The tragedy isn’t going to go away. It’s a part of us, and that’s OK.
I want to tell Virginia Tech that I’m confused. Why not fund our hotel rooms? Why not include us in the private events that you have scheduled? Such a small thing to do, but it would mean so much.
In the Roanoke Times article, it says that Virginia Tech provided counseling, a bench, and public remembrance events. I am very appreciative of these things, but we need more. The uninjured survivors are different. We need extra TLC above and beyond what you offer the larger Hokie community. Maybe you forgot about us? And that’s OK too, but here I am, asking to be included and I feel shut out. A parent who lost a loved one that day once told me that after the shooting, it was the traumatized leading the traumatized. It has helped me understand a lot. You, too, VT officials were likely traumatized. I get it. But let’s come together, rather than apart.
Last, but not least, THANK YOU to everyone that has donated, shared, tweeted, emailed the university, and sent me personal messages. I am SO grateful. I could not be the voice for the uninjured survivors if it wasn’t for your support.
With love, lots of love,