Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kiwanis honors Tech victim

The club establishes a memorial fund and names a scholarship after victim Henry Lee.

Henry Lee told the Kiwanis Club of Roanoke last year, as he accepted a scholarship from the group, that he hoped a degree in computer engineering from Virginia Tech would allow him to help his family financially.

The 2006 William Fleming High School salutatorian, also known as Henh Ly, died in the April 16 shootings at Tech, but in death is still providing aid to his family.

The Kiwanis Club established a memorial fund in his name and presented his family with a check for $2,884 on Wednesday. The group also renamed an existing annual scholarship in Lee's name as a more lasting memorial, and awarded it to another Fleming grad who had known Lee for years.

"We as Kiwanians feel a strong obligation to carry out Henh's legacy for his involvement in community service and academic excellence," said club president Manly Aylor. He reeled off a list of Lee's volunteer activities and quoted from the speech Lee gave to the club a year ago: "Whatever I do in life, I will always do my best to help those who need it even if it takes time out of my personal life because I'd like to give back what the community has given to me."

About a dozen members of Lee's family were on hand.

"I don't know what to say, just thank you," said Lee's oldest brother, Nhi Lee. The family is of modest means. They came to the United States in 1994 as refugees from Vietnam, but are Chinese culturally. Lee's father, Song Ly, recently retired from the Home Shopping Network.

Lee's funeral expenses were covered by donations and grants, but the family still has outstanding medical bills because Lee's mother collapsed several times in the days after his death and was hospitalized. She remains in fragile health.

Lee left Fleming with a raft of scholarships. A girl he had known since middle school in turn will leave Fleming with a $2,500 scholarship bearing his name.

Alexandra Amick, 18, was in Fleming's International Baccalaureate program with Lee.

Amick will attend Goucher College in Baltimore. She plans on law school after that and to become a children's advocate.

Like Lee, she leaves on a wave of academic recognitions, but "this is the absolute top honor," she said. "He's the definition of what this is all about."

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