Why Roanoke, Virginia is an Example to Our Nation


The sign outside the food truck prompting donations.

On August 26, at approximately 6:46 AM, Alison Parker and Adam Ward were gunned down in a cowardly and terrorist act, in a supposed retaliation for another cowardly and terroristic act: the Charleston shooting. But, this article is not about that.

I love to write. Most of the time, I write about food, about beer, about fun, and life. Sarcasm and attempted wit dominate my printed words. As I sit here and ponder my own thoughts, I realize that, for once, my writing will take a serious note.

Tuesday morning was nothing out of the ordinary. I awoke, made some coffee, and sat down to catch up on the world news. I try to steer away from the negativity that dominates the news in my own country, and the news around the world. My twitter feed is a good source of the news I enjoy. Someone rates a Leinenkugel beer; the ten best burgers in Austin; how to get great smoke rings on your Boston butt. As I pulled up the news, I saw a story that immediately struck me. The words rang clear. Moneta. Bridgewater Plaza. Smith Mountain Lake. WDBJ. Roanoke. I frantically searched for more and as I read, I sat stunned. Two of Roanoke's shining stars had been snuffed out. Killed, on live TV.

After the initial shock, I began to think what I could do to help. Food. Food is what I know. So how can I get some food to the staff members of WDBJ? I didn't want to order pizza. I wanted to give them a piece of my heart to relieve the pain in theirs. I immediately began calling Roanoke's food trucks.

The first I called stated that she couldn’t help as she had already committed somewhere else. The second phone call set things in place. Steve Baum answered. I began to explain what I wanted to do and immediately, he agreed. This was at 1:00 p.m. The next call was to Sam's Club here in Roanoke. They agreed to donate food for us.

At 2:30, I met Steve for the first time inside Sam's. Steve has already gotten there, shopped, and had a cart full of groceries. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Plates. Drinks. The order came to well over what Sam's allotted and Steve paid out of his pocket. I then went to WDBJ to find a place to set up.

When I arrived, the site was buzzing with news crews. Vans with huge satellite dishes began to show. Staples in national media emblazoned with their logo were parked in the station lot, as well as the side road leading to it. A large lot across the street was already packed with overflow vehicles. I pulled into the bottom part and waited. Around 30 minutes later, Steve showed up with his rig. This was a truck-pulled trailer and the smoke was already rolling out of the smoker. Steve hurriedly set up while we unpacked.

We started cooking the hot dogs around 3:30. By 5:00, we carried the first round of hot dogs and fresh, hot, seasoned fries into the station. I believe we sent sixty or so, with several extra dishes of hot fries. Steve had several volunteers show up and we began to form a plan. I called my local Kroger and they offered far more than I ever expected: one hundred pounds of chicken. One of the volunteers hastily went to pick it up and seemingly immediately returned.


While we continued, news crews would walk past and ask what we were serving. At the time, we had only hot dogs and small, easily cooked food. But, we had just seasoned the wings and drumsticks with Steves own rub and put them in the smoker. Fortunately, the wind blew perfectly into the news crews reporting on the day’s events. Hungry crews began to get in line and man, did we jump into action.