U of R graduation honors balloon crash victims

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The hot air balloon tragedy that has struck the nation, is especially felt at the University of Richmond, where students graduated Sunday afternoon.

Many U of R students graduates wore red ribbons in honor of the victims, women's basketball coach Ginny Doyle, and the team's director of operations, Natalie Lewis.

A moment of silence to remember these beloved women opened the ceremony.

"As a fellow athlete, (I) wanted to wear it to show that I'm praying for those families, and that it means a lot to me as a fellow Spider," said Krystin Schwarze, a graduate and member of the university's golf team, who pinned the ribbon to her gown.

Graduate Wayne Sparrow played on the university men's basketball team. Sparrow says he knew coach Ginny Doyle as a motivator.

"She was definitely focused on hard workers. Even if I was in the gym, she'd say a few things…what she saw in my game. She will definitely be missed," said Sparrow.

Sparrow depicts Lewis's energy as infectious.

"She was able to bring a presence in the Spider arena that not many people can do. She was always happy and cheerful," described Sparrow, also wearing a red ribbon.

One graduate, a U of R women's basketball team member, decorated her cap with the initials of her mentors, whom she'll never see again.

Monday afternoon, university officials say there will be a special tribute to Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis, on campus. We'll keep you updated on details.

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