As dozens gathered for the annual University Bookstore Homecoming 5K race at Virginia Tech, many runners took part in a memorial run to honor a fallen Virginia Tech police officer.
“He was always the funny one in the crowd,” Anne Didio said of her nephew, Officer Deriek Crouse. “And he was just so lovable in such a gentle nature. There’s still a huge hole in the family structure.”
Officer Crouse was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on campus nearly five years ago. Didio cheered on those completing a memorial run of 1.52 miles, matching Officer Crouse’s badge number of 152.
“It is so wonderful to know that the community remembers our loved one and honors him in the way that he deserves,” Didio said.
“I was a student here, and I was here that day through all the chaos,” said Arkief Robinson, one of the runners. “Just watching those officers and how bad they felt – it made me want to be an officer so I can protect people and them as well.”
Robinson said Officer Crouse’s passing inspired him to become a Virginia Tech police officer.
“I’m from Brooklyn, New York, and I didn’t think I would be a cop at all one day,” Robinson said.
Robinson is one of the many officers from several different agencies who take part in the annual run.
“When we have the motorcycles leading the race and when all the police officers…run it, they cross the finish line together, so it’s a great way to make sure those memories live on,” said Steven Trotter, assistant director of Virginia Tech fitness programs who also serves as one of the event organizers.
“It reminds people that these are our gentlemen and humans that are behind this badge,” Didio said. “And they have families, too.”
About 150 people turn out for the event each year, Trotter said. Proceeds from this year’s event benefit recreational sports student scholarships and the Virginia Law Enforcement Assistance Program, he added.