HomeNews5K race is the way a smiling but grieving mom gives back

5K race is the way a smiling but grieving mom gives back

Author

Date

With her broad smile, Letitie Clark greeted the dozens of children Saturday who had gathered to race along the Augusta Canal in memory of her son, Ryan.

Andran Brooks pins a race bib on her daughter Skyler, 10, for the 5 kilometer race to honor slain Virginia Tech student Ryan Clark and raise funds for a scholarship in his name. Staff photo by Joshua B. Good.

The smile is always present – in the car line at Blue Ridge Elementary School when Clark greets the children as they get out of the cars and buses, in the hallways and in the classroom when the paraprofessional fills in and helps teach classes.

The grief is always present, too. Her son died 15 years ago during the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007. On that day, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people, including Ryan Clark who was a dormitory resident assistant. He died trying to shield another student from Cho’s gunfire.

“It’s been 15 years, but it seems like yesterday,” Letitie Clark told the children and parents who had gathered for the race. 

[adrotate banner=”51″]


Each year she organizes the 5-kilometer race to raise funds for the Ryan Clark Scholarship. She gives three awards annually – $2,000, $1,000 and $500, to deserving students going to college.

Blue Ridge Elementary School students dash across the starting line at Saturday’s Ryan Clark Scholarship 5K race at the Savannah River Rapids park in Evans. Staff photo by Joshua B. Good.

Even before Clark yelled go, the boys and girls, wearing their race bib numbers and Ryan Clark Scholarship T-shirts, dashed across the starting line. They stomped across the bridge going over the canal at the Savannah River Rapids park in Evans and down the canal path.

Anderan Brooks brought her twin sons Seth and Ethan, 9, and their sister Skyler, 10, to race. 

“They’re very aware of what happened,” she said as she pinned on their numbers before the race. “Kids, why are you here and what are you supporting?”

“Ryan Clark,” all three said in unison.

“Yes,” their mother said. Her children also knew about the shooting and how Ryan Clark tried to save others.

[adrotate banner=”15″]


Ashley Fryer, a first grade teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary School in Martinez, lays out race medals at the finish line. Staff photo by Joshua B. Good.

There was a large crew of volunteers, mostly teachers and administrators from the school. Rickey Jones was also there to help. He won the scholarship in 2013 and used it to help pay for his undergraduate degree in fashion design from Georgia Southern University.

John Rayburn, a 12-year-old 5th grader at Blue Ridge Elementary School, was the first child to cross the finish line in the Ryan Clark Scholarship 5K Saturday. Staff photo by Joshua B. Good.

As the race clock passed 21 minutes, the first runner, the husband of one teacher, crossed the line. The crowd cheered, but not as loudly as they did about two minutes later when John Rayburn sprinted across the line. He is 12 and a fifth grader at Blue Ridge.

The first one to greet the winner was Letitie Clark with her huge smile and a race medal for the boy.

“Congratulations!” she beamed.

Joshua B. Good is a staff reporter covering Columbia County and military/veterans’ issues for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected] 

Recent posts

Recent comments

Pierce Blitch III on Augusta barber tradition continues
Tedd Antonacci on Bon Air receives failing grade
Catherine McKnight on Bon Air receives failing grade
Carolyn Vickers on Pay going up for city employees
Clarence Powell on Pay going up for city employees
Thomas Yarbrough on Pay going up for city employees
Leza Witherington on Pay going up for city employees
J. Paul Griffin on Pay going up for city employees
Catherine McKnight on Sias found guilty of federal crimes
Dianne Lackey on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
Jimmy Clark on Faith: Swift retribution
Penny Danner on Faith: Swift retribution
Kevin de l’Aigle on Arrest made in transgender slaying
Barry Paschal on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
THOMAS SUMNER on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
Christine Slendak on Gold Cross increase request fails
Thomas Yarbrough on Murder suspect arrested
Thomas Yarbrough on Columbia County inmate dies
Thomas Yarbrough on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Thomas Yarbrough on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Phillip Williams on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Tedd Antonacci on Opinion: Letter to the editor
NancyBlumenthal on “Augusta” By David Sirull
Kelly Wagner on Another homicide in Augusta
Juliann McCraney on Column: Faith: Ups and downs
Robert Schloesser on Saga with Gold Cross EMS continues
Thomas Yarbrough on Garnett Johnson: In his own words
Tedd Antonacci on OPINION: Letter to the editor
Charmain Brackett on Reoccurring Members
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Trudy Edwards on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Gay Wright on Reoccurring Members
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Thomas Plowden on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Man struck by train Thursday
Thomas Yarbrough on Man struck by train Thursday
Tedd Antonacci on Man struck by train Thursday
Dennis Perry on FAITH: Our Only Hope
Nona Zimmerman on Amy Grant at the Miller May 25
Robert Turbyfill on Column: Serene18 – take two
Leonard Zimmerman Jr on In The Kitchen With Vera: Oh Honey
Allen Wylds on