Falling Branch raises money for former student
CHRISTIANSBURG — Luke Robie never met Marcus Ford, but that didn’t stop him from running more than five miles on March 30 in Ford’s honor.
Luke’s feat, which Falling Branch Principal Julie Vanidestine said “put the fifth-graders to shame,” was part of Falling Branch Elementary School’s grand finale of efforts which raised $1,290.52 for the Marcus Ford Scholarship Fund.
Ford, who passed away March 17 at the age of 22 due to a heart condition, attended the school from first- through fifth- grade.
Soon after his death, fourth-grade teacher Teri Ford and fifth-grade teacher Tommy Trotter began coordinating efforts to raise money for the scholarship fund started by friends and family in Marcus Ford’s honor.
“At first we wanted to do something small, but it just kept snowballing into bigger and better things,” Teri Ford said.
Several items were raffled off, including an autographed Virginia Tech football and basketball, as well as a football autographed by the entire football team from Marcus Ford’s college alma mater, James Madison University.
The grand finale of the events became a school-wide walk/run-a-thon in honor of Marcus Ford’s reputation as a stellar track athlete. During the event, the school donated five cents for every lap around the school each student completed.
Luke took full advantage of this offer and tallied 23 of the quarter-mile laps on what he said was a rather warm March day. On Friday, he represented the school in handing Marcus Ford’s mother, Donna Ford, the check representing their efforts.
Marcus Ford’s father, Waverly Ford, said the second-grader’s performance reminded him of his son, who was known for being out front during a race.
Luke had originally planned to stop at an even 20 laps but said once he broke 20, he figured he might as well keep going.
“I wanted to raise money for Marcus,” Luke said of his motivation.
Though he never had the opportunity to meet Marcus, Luke said he’d heard a lot about the former Falling Branch student.
“He loved to mix his clothes and didn’t care what people thought about what he was wearing,” Luke said.
Donna Ford was overcome with emotions as she and Luke released a batch of purple and gold balloons into the sky in her son’s honor to complete the ceremony.
She said the school’s gesture meant so much to her because the school had meant so much to Marcus Ford.
Teri Ford described Marcus Ford as one of the most unique and special students she had ever taught. She said holding the fundraising events at the school had given them an opportunity to remember Marcus Ford, while also presenting him as an example of a successful student dedicated to both school and sports.
But most of all, she said it allowed them to communicate to the students what it really means to be an alumni of the elementary school.
“You’re always part of the Falling Branch family when you go here. You’ll always be special to us,” Teri Ford said.
The Marcus Ford Memorial Fund, which is located at National Bank in Christiansburg, plans to name the recipient of its inaugural to a Christiansburg High School student later this month.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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