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Va. Tech Band Serenades Victims

By KRISTEN GELINEAU

Associated Press Writer

(AP)BLACKSBURG, Va.

The bullets from Cho Seung-Hui´s gun slammed into Hilary Strollo´s abdomen, head and buttocks. For four days, a cluster of tubes has run through her neck as she waits in a hospital for her body to heal.

But the pain could not keep the smile off the 19-year-old´s face when the Hokies marching band arrived unexpectedly Thursday outside her hospital window to serenade Strollo and five other victims recovering there.

It was a rare moment of joy at the hospital, where authorities took many of the victims of Cho´s rampage. Nine people remain hospitalized after Monday´s massacre that left 33 dead, including the gunman.

Their windows cracked open while the band blasted out Tech Triumph, the Hokies fight song, revealing patient rooms filled with colorful balloons and flowers. Inside, people peeked out and waved.

Strollo, a freshman, stood at the window, gazing down at her classmates with a smile. “Let´s go!” she suddenly called out.

After a surprised pause, the band shouted back in unison, “Hokies!”

Every band member who lived close enough eagerly agreed to play at the hastily arranged serenade, said drum major Stephen Shelburne, a sophomore music major.

“Music, I´ve always been told, and I believe _ it´s the universal language. Everybody understands it´s the same thing as a hug,” he said. “It touches you in a way that words cannot.”

After the performance, hospital chief executive Scott Hill thanked the band. “This is the best medicine of all, knowing you all stand behind them,” he said.

Despite her injuries _ bullets tore through her liver _ Strollo said she was feeling “good _ a lot better.”

Strollo´s good spirit and seeing the other patients come to their windows surprised Shelburne _ and also brought him some comfort.

“Just look,” he said, glancing toward the windows. “They´re OK, they´ll be fine. We all will be. It´ll just take time.”