Desiree Thompson never really knew her grandmother. She was just 3 years old on April 19, 1995 — the day Virginia Thompson and 167 others died in the Oklahoma City bombing.
But as she prepared to run the first leg of the marathon relay for Tulsa Bishop Kelley High School on Sunday, Desiree was reminded of her by someone who did know Virginia Thompson very well. "She was my dad's mother, and she was a big part of my family,” Desiree said. "We've grown so much because of her.” Virginia worked in the credit union on the third floor of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. After the blast, rescuers couldn't recover her body. The search drew on for weeks. Virginia's was one of the last three bodies pulled from the building's rubble after it was imploded. They found her on Memorial Day. "It was quite a long ordeal,” said Phillip Thompson, Desiree's father and Virginia's son. "When you lose a loved one that you care so much about, the sudden shock is breath-taking. It takes years to overcome.” Phillip's relationship with his mother sustained him after her death. It helped him refocus his energy toward the goals he'd set for his life. Old goals, like raising a family. New goals, like teaching them how to cope. "We were at the starting line, and he looked at me and said, ‘I'm so proud of you and what you are doing,'” Desiree said through tears. "That was good to know because I'm representing our family and everything we've gone through.