Ali Kemp remembered in Pi Beta Phi philanthropy


Brutally murdered in Leawood, Kan., in 2002 at the age of 19, Ali Kemp was honored Thursday by her sorority sisters of Pi Beta Phi and the K-State community.

The sorority held a benefit concert at the Wareham Opera House and a free self-defense class at the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex.

“This is the seventh year that Ali Kemp Bandstand is Pi Beta Phi’s local philanthropy,” said Kelby Polfer, senior in apparel and textiles and chapter president of Pi Beta Phi. “Ali returned home to the Kansas City area in the summer of 2002 after her freshman year at K-State, and she was assaulted and murdered in a pool pump room. This event’s purpose is to remember her.”

This year featured K-State student Laura Wetzel, junior in family studies, human services and pre-nursing, and recording artist Kelley James. There was also a self-defense class and a candle lighting ceremony, where those in attendance sang “Angels Among Us,” Pi Beta Phi’s chapter song.

“Kelley James did a sorority tour last year, and our chapter was one of the ones fortunate enough to host him,” Polfer said. “Our girls really enjoyed it, and immediately following his performance, there was talk of inviting him to sing at Ali Kemp Bandstand. We negotiated contracts with him all summer, and we are flying him in from Los Angeles.”

Prior to the concert was The Ali Kemp Educational, or T.A.K.E., self-defense class.

“We want girls to be equipped with knowledge on how to defend themselves,” Polfer said.

During the self-defense class, Ali Kemp’s father discussed his daughter’s story and revealed the mission of the T.A.K.E. foundation.

“The most meaningful moment was when her dad talked,” said Ariel Burress, sophomore in apparel marketing. “It makes Ali’s story so much more realistic to see him there.”

Anna Sturman, junior in elementary education, is the vice president of philanthropy for Pi Beta Phi and was in charge of organizing this year’s Ali Kemp Bandstand. Sturman said she spoke to Ali’s father, Roger Kemp, over the phone.

“We sent him a letter, just like we do every year, and shortly after I got a call from him. It gave me chills. His voice sounded exactly like it does on the philanthropy video we showed during recruitment,” Sturman said.

Many women felt the event meant more than the average sorority philanthropy.

“I want people to have respect for Ali’s story, and I think this self-defense class contributes to that cause,” said Nicole Easley, sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communications and first-time participant.

Wetzel, who performed after the self-defense class, has attended the class in the past.

“I found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience,” she said. “Gaining applicable skills in defending ourselves serves to boost confidence and remind each young woman that she is valued and worth protecting. I think T.A.K.E. is an awesome foundation that is based off an inspiring story of a father’s love for his daughter.”

Wetzel was the opening act at the concert last night and was recruited to sing at the concert because she had contacts with several girls in the Pi Beta Phi house who graduated with her from Shawnee Mission East High School.

“I was thrilled by the invitation and of course accepted,” Wetzel said. “I knew it would be a great opportunity to get my music heard, and I also hoped to gain some confidence in the songs that I’ve written. When I see and hear that people are enjoying my original songs, it motivates me to continue writing and playing.”

With an event of this size, advertising played a key role in this year’s Ali Kemp Bandstand. The fliers and the mint-green shirts, which sold for $15, could be easily spotted on K-State’s campus this past week to promote the event.

“All this week I saw girls wearing the T-shirt, promoting the event,” Wetzel said. “People I’ve never met walked right by me wearing my name, and I was forced to smile to myself. It’s an exciting thing.”

Advertising was not limited to shirts and fliers, however.

“Other than the T-shirts and fliers, we advertised with the Collegian, over the radio and through Facebook groups,” Polfer said. “And of course it didn’t hurt to see a big advertisement at Varney’s in Aggieville.”

All proceeds from the event are donated to the T.A.K.E. Foundation in order to continue educating others on Ali’s story.