On the afternoon of June 18, 2002, Ali Kemp, a K-State student, was working in Leawood, Kan. at a private neighborhood pool. She was followed by a stranger into the pool’s pump room where moments later, she was murdered. There were no witnesses.
Later that day, Roger Kemp, Ali’s father, found her dead body under a tarp at the pool. It took three years to track down the man who changed the lives for the Kemp family forever.
With a police composite sketch compiled from the memory of one of Ali’s friends who was briefly at the pool, Roger went to a local advertising firm to get four billboards up of the suspected man. Shortly after, reports filed in and Benjamin Appleby, then 29-years-old, was arrested and is currently serving 50 years.
However, Roger did not stop there. He and his wife, Kathy, created the Ali Kemp Educational Foundation in memory of their daughter. The foundation, also known as the T.A.K.E. Defense Foundation, was created to carry on Ali’s legacy as well as ensure what happened to her doesn’t happen to another.
Ali was a member of the Pi Beta Phi 2001 pledge class at K-State. In 2002, the Pi Beta Phi K-State chapter was the first chapter nationally to create the Ali Kemp Bandstand philanthropy with the help of Roger. The event includes a self-defense class, a concert and a candlelight vigil afterwards.
Since 2002, the chapter has hosted the philanthropy annually and it continues to grow with every year. This year, the self-defense class was held at the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex. The two-hour long class taught women hands-on self-defense training. About 275 women were in attendance.
The T.A.K.E. Defense program taught women the use of movements and techniques that could be needed in various types of aggressive situations. The proposed incident was an intruder entering the house while one is lying in bed, so the techniques focused on how to get out from underneath the attacker.
Michelle Senne, junior in food science and industry and an active member of Pi Beta Phi, said that the event changed her perspective.
“It definitely opened my eyes to make sure that I am keeping aware of everything that is going on around me,” Senne said.
Following the self-defense class, there was a concert in effort to raise funds for the foundation. Patrick Beebe, freshman in open option and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, was the opening act for country music artist Logan Mize. Playing to a packed house, the event sold out for the first time with roughly 700 people in attendance.
Lauren Strickler, sophomore in kinesiology and pre-chiropratic and vice president of philanthropy for Pi Beta Phi, said it’s crazy how one individual impacts an entire community.
“It’s cool to see how all of the different people, over the timespan, still care about this event and are still thinking about her,” Strickler said. “It shows how strong our sisterhood is.”
At the concert, Roger came on stage to thank everyone for coming out and supporting the T.A.K.E. Defense Foundation. Over 50,000 people have taken the self-defense class, marking a huge milestone for the program. Roger also said that he hopes it helps women and affects them as much as he is affected by it.
“If I save one life from this program, then it’s all worth it,” Roger said.
Following the concert was a candlelight vigil, where family and friends gathered to hear memories about Ali and remember her. Emily Myers, senior in marketing and chapter president of Pi Beta Phi, said the entire event always has more meaning than what is seen from the outside.
“I want people to realize how much this means to the people who knew her and her family,” Myers said. “Her dad tears up every time because he is seeing the direct effect of the change he has made. I hope people see it as more than just a concert because it’s more than just having a good time.”