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October 12, 2009

Robinson's race to aid others

By: Jimmy Robertson

Wayne Robinson helped the Hokies on the court and continues to help the school off it.

Age may have robbed him of his quickness, but almost 30 years after graduating from Virginia Tech as one of the best basketball players in school history (he’s in the school’s sports Hall of Fame), Wayne Robinson still thrives in an up-tempo environment.

Even though he works a full-time job and also serves as a senior pastor at New Millennium Christian Center in Greensboro, N.C., Robinson never wastes an opportunity to help his alma mater and he’s got his hands in yet another project designed to benefit Virginia Tech.

Robinson has teamed with Tech’s Office for Equity and Inclusion and Phi Kappa Tau to sponsor the Wayne Robinson/Principles of Community Phive K and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk to be held Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. on the Virginia Tech Cross Country Course. The 5K Race and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk are open to all ages. Awards will be handed out.

One can pre-register for the race at or at The cost is $15 for those who pre-register, and it rises to $20 if one registers on the day of the event. The price tag for the Fun Run/Walk is $10.

“No, I won’t be running in it,” Robinson laughed. “I’ll be up there, but my knees aren’t what they used to be.”

Robinson, who played on Tech’s 1979 Metro Conference Tournament championship team, got involved because the proceeds of this race and run/walk go toward two important causes– the Wayne Robinson Presidential Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Association for Hole in the Wall Camps (which supports camping and therapeutic activities for children with serious and life-threatening medical conditions).

Robinson established a scholarship shortly after graduating as a way to support under-represented students who are non-athletes to pursue academic endeavors. His scholarship was later incorporated into the Virginia Tech Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a scholarship program designed to offset the costs of college for in-state Virginia high school students with significant financial need. The program recognizes and rewards academically talented students who have shown a commitment to academic excellence.

“When I started, I wanted to help under-represented students who were non-athletes,” Robinson said. “By transferring to the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, I felt it could grow into something even bigger and that I could make a greater impact among students who need support.”

The first 5K race and 1-mile run/walk made its debut last year and figures to gain even more support.

“Our university is growing by leaps and bounds, but I strongly believe we have to become more diverse and cast a wider net,” said Robinson, who has served as board member for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the Multicultural Alumni Advisory Board. “That’s the next phase of our development. We’ve done admirably so far, but we’ve got a lot of work to do and I’m going to do everything I can to see that this is at the forefront. I’m going to work hard because I love our university. It made me feel welcome and helped me be successful and I want others to experience that, too.”

Former Tech track standout passes away

William Stuart Johnson, a former Tech track superstar in the late 1940s and early 1950s, passed away on Sept. 6 at the age of 79. As most Tech fans know, the current outdoor track complex – Johnson-Miller Track Complex – is named after Johnson and teammate Jack Miller, Jr., both of whom made significant contributions to get the new track built.

Johnson graduated from Tech in 1952 with a degree in mining engineering. He captained the track team that season, and later that year, he made it to the 1952 Olympic trials as a middle distance runner. In 1989, he became the first track athlete inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Johnson served as a United States naval officer aboard ship during the Korean conflict. He began his professional career with Bethlehem Steel and, in 1958, joined Brenco, Inc., a manufacturer of roller bearings, where he became president and chief executive in 1970. In 1981, he co-founded Roller Bearing Industries, developing a new process for reconditioning railroad bearings.

Johnson constantly gave back to his alma mater, establishing three scholarships and two funds, both for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

He leaves behind a wife, a daughter and son-in-law, two grandchildren, a sister, two nieces and a nephew.