Ten years ago, K-State student Ali
Kemp lost her life in a brutal attack at a swimming pool in Johnson
County. Last night, over 150 women came
together to participate in a philanthropic event named in her honor, featuring a self-defense class and a concert.
The K-State chapter of Pi Beta
Phi, in partnership with The Ali Kemp Education Foundation, or T.A.K.E., held its
annual Ali Kemp Bandstand event at the Peters Recreation Complex. The event began with the
self-defense class at 4 p.m., and then moved downtown for a free concert featuring music
by the Jared Daniels Band at the Wareham Opera House.
“We can make that difference in
our society,” said Roger Kemp, father of the late K-State student, to the crowd
of women seated throughout a basketball court at the Rec. “You can start
putting an end to this senseless violence that is going on in our society. You can’t allow it.”
Kemp encouraged women’s empowerment and the need for women to be prepared if a threatening situation should arise, before turning over the floor to the
Megan Spradlin, junior in public
health and nutrition and vice president of philanthropy at Pi Beta Phi, said
that this year’s event was estimated to bring in roughly $3,500, which would go
directly towards T.A.K.E, the non-profit organization formed by Kemp
and Jill and Bob Leiker, who have been leading the self-defense courses since their
“The self-defense class,
especially for women in college, is just very practical,” Spradlin said. “It is
also close to us because Ali Kemp was a Pi Phi, so it means a lot to put on an
event in her name.”
The Leikers, both high-ranking black belts in various disciplines, met Kemp soon
after his daughter’s death and have been instructing the T.A.K.E defense courses
since soon after that first meeting. The group has seen the growth of their classes from an original class of
just 12 members in the basement of the Johnson County Parks and
Recreation Center to a nationwide, touring class that has enabled an estimated
48,000 women to fight back and defend themselves against violence and sexual
Jill Leiker spoke after Kemp, and then took the women through an exercise meant to emphasize the importance of
identifying an attacker.
“Bob just left the room,” she
said. “I want you to describe him for me. How tall is he, what does he look like?”
Women responded by belting out descriptions of the 6-foot-1-inch, 240-pound Bob Leiker.
“It is important to be aware, not
only of if a situation arises, but of who the perpetrator is,” Jill Leiker said.
Soon after, her husband came back
into the gym and addressed the women further before the class got underway.
“Scumbags,” he said, before a
number of the women responded with “No!”
Many of the women had taken the
course before and were prepared for the drill. When Leiker said the word the women were prompted to reply with a loud
and aggressive “No!”
Following Bob Leiker’s remarks, the women spent the next hour learning basic maneuvers for escaping and
negating potential threats. Among these were a three-punch combination, grip-breaking techniques and knees to the
groin, all accompanied by vocally alarming anyone within earshot.
“Eyes, nose, throat, groin,”
Leiker said. “Hit like you’re possessed, hit them hard somewhere soft,
whatever’s available, and escape.”
Molly Rapphold, sophomore in
communication sciences and disorders who attended the event for the first time, was pleased with the experience.
“It was really helpful,” Rapphold
said. “They teach you how to react in several situations. I think it is a great event and idea,
especially being from the Kansas City area and knowing of Ali’s killing and an
incident at Target where a girl got kidnapped. You hear about these things happening all the time, even in generally
safe areas, so it is important to know what to do.”
At 6:30 p.m., everyone relocated to the Wareham, located on Poyntz Avenue, for the free concert and the evening’s festivities. The women were joined by many male counterparts
as they crowded into the concert hall. The Jared Daniels Band played a
mixture of original songs and covers of popular songs by various artists. Mr. Goodcents subs were served, along with
bottled water and Red Bull, and at one point a couple was involved in an eye-catching
display of country-swing dancing as “Wagon Wheel” emitted from the
Matt Webb, freshman in
mathematics, was on hand to show support for his female collegues.
“I’m kind of an old-fashioned
guy,” he said. “So you know, I’m protective of women, but there isn’t always
someone there, and they need to protect themselves. So I think this is great. Safety is something
you should almost be able to take for granted, even though you can’t nowadays,
and this event addresses that.”
More information about the
T.A.K.E foundation can be found at takedefense.org.