Vicki Gardner, the chamber of commerce official who was seriously injured during the Aug. 26 shooting that killed two WDBJ (Channel 7) journalists, was discharged from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Monday.
Thomas Becher, senior vice president at Neathawk Dubuque & Packett in Roanoke, said Gardner is home but is not yet giving interviews.
A post on “Vicki’s Recovery Page” on Facebook said family members are “thrilled to have her home, but she does face a long recuperation time.”
“Vicki wants to thank all of you for your support and prayers and for respecting her privacy as she continues her journey back to full health,” the post read. “She will make a statement to the media as soon as she has had time to rest up and adjust to her new routine.”
Another post quotes Gardner saying that she is determined to leave a “positive legacy in place of this tragedy.”
“As I re-focus on things of importance I’m filled with newfound energy and the enthusiasm to make a difference,” Gardner said. “We at Smith Mountain Lake will not be defined by an act of violence.”
Gardner, 62, had emergency surgery after she was rushed from the scene of the shooting at Bridgewater Plaza. The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director was promoting the lake’s 50th anniversary when 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II opened fire, killing 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward.
Gardner’s husband, Tim Gardner, told the Associated Press that Gardner was shot in the back. During surgery, doctors had to remove a damaged kidney and part of her colon.
In the two weeks since the shooting, Gardner has made significant strides toward recovery, her husband told The Roanoke Times.
Troy Keaton, chairman of the chamber’s board, said dozens of people have called to ask how they could donate to Gardner and her family. Gardner has requested that the money go instead toward building a community center that could serve as a business, education and entertainment hub for the lake.
“Vicki has been really adamant that any money that comes in go to Smith Mountain Lake,” Keaton said. “She wants the lake to be defined by the goodness and the beauty and the wonderful people of the lake, not this horrible incident.”
Keaton said the project, called “Vicki’s Vision,” has actually been in discussion since February. Though several sites have been proposed for the center, Keaton said no concrete plans have been made.
On Saturday, the Kroger at Westlake Towne Center held a fundraiser for Gardner called “Smith Mountain Lake Strong.” Angela Byrne, an administrative support employee at Kroger, said the store raised $1,700 by selling ribs and $1,650 by selling raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses.
Because some people donated without getting food or a raffle ticket, the grocery store raised $3,400, all of which will go toward the community center project, Keaton said.
To donate, send funds to the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce at 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway Suite 2, Moneta, VA 24121.