A local business owner is seeking help from the community in raising funds for the family of a friend whose life was claimed in the Virginia Tech shootings last year.

A local business owner is seeking help from the community in raising funds for the family of a friend whose life was claimed in the Virginia Tech shootings last year.

Professor Kevin Granata was one of 32 students and staff members killed when student Seung-Hui Cho went on a rampage April 16, 2007, on campus.

Jerry Greenspan, owner of Exercise Equipment Experts and Columbus Fitness Consultants in Upper Arlington, was a graduate student at Ohio State University with Granata in the 1990s and set up a memorial fund for his family after the tragedy.

When Greenspan heard about the tragedy, "it was surreal," he said. "I found out through a friend of mine who's also a biomechanical engineer. I found out the day after it happened."

Greenspan donated $11,200 of his company's profits to the fund and collected more than $14,000 in donations. The community can contribute to the fund by bidding on fitness equipment through May 31 at Columbusfitness.com.

"We have treadmills, we have ellipticals, we have a gym," Greenspan said. "We have free weights and dumbbells, some adjustable dumbbells. We have about a dozen footballs signed by former Buckeyes such as Eddie George and Chris Spielman."

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to Granata's widow and three children.

Greenspan had kept in touch periodically with Granata after they completed their degrees at Ohio State.

"We were like best friends in grad school. He went into academic circles and I went into the private sector," Greenspan said. "I think I actually talked to him at Virginia Tech once. We just went in different directions. I'd go to the American Society of Biomechanics conference, and that's where I mainly saw Kevin."

Granata received his undergraduate degree and then his doctorate in biomechanics from Ohio State in 1993. He worked as a senior research engineer at Ohio State for four more years and continued to collaborate with OSU staff members after he left.

While Greenspan's career took him into academia, Granata opened his fitness company 15 years ago. The location at 1640 W. Lane Ave. has been open for 11 years.

"We sell the equipment both to commercial settings and to residents," Greenspan said. "We also have personal training studios that are connected with the show rooms. We have a whole team of exercise physiologists, nutritionists."

Greenspan hopes to raise $15,000 for Granata's family through the online auction.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com