BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) It was a beautiful morning on the campus of Virginia Tech Saturday. And a great day for a run.
"You just see how big the Hokie community really is," said Jordan Sardello, a Virginia Tech sophomore.
As balloons were raised and runners started their journey, it was easy to notice this 3.2 mile run wasn't to decide a winner, but to be together for each other as a community.
"It really feels like this is home and everybody is here to help and support and cheer us on," said Gabby Marquez, an employee of campus rec sports.
The memorial run started after the 2007 shooting as another way to help this community heal. This year breaks all records - about 16 thousand people took part.
And whether they were running, or taking a stroll it was for a good reason.
Dan Waidelich was a freshman in 2007. He now lives in Chicago and didn't think twice about coming back.
"I don't think the pain is ever going to go away. It's not just today that I think about it. It's still during the year there will be days," Waidelich said.
He knew Caitlin Hammaren, a victim of the shootings. His part in the run was in honor of her.
"Just being back here is a way for us to remember her and she was just pure light. So any time we can be around whatever part of her is still here is incredible," Waidelich said.
Countless other friends and family members of victims joined the Hokie community to eat. The university provided lunch and games for the campus, free of charge. It was a picnic to remember, reflect, and cherish.
"They remember what the cause is for and everything like that but everybody just tries to be in the most positive light," said Carrie Lynne Wolford, a Virginia Tech senior.