Turning Tragedy into Hope for the Future

Red and White Rose
Source: Flickr.com

The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult parts of life to deal with – especially when it’s sudden and unexpected.

Everyone deals with losing a loved one in different ways, whether it’s through the strength of God and prayer and through the love and support of family and friends. But then there are people that go a step further, by transforming their grief into widespread positive change that can effect the masses.

As an example, I wanted to share a story with you that really resonated with me ever since I first heard about it almost 12 years ago. I can’t quite explain the reason for the personal connection, other than perhaps a sheer admiration for the immense strength, courage, and determination for change that was shown in the face of such adversity.

The Story of Ali Kemp

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Ali Kemp, Source: Blogs.Kansascity.com

Ali Kemp was a bright, beautiful, young lady living in Kansas, when she was senselessly attacked and murdered at a neighbourhood swimming pool during the summer of 2002.

Ali’s family refused to take a backseat in this tragedy and immediately went into action mode after her death. They knew that something had to be done to help protect more women from getting harmed. As a result, Ali’s father, Roger Kemp, founded The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation (T.A.K.E Defense) in August 2002 in honour of his daughter.

The foundation offers practical training and education to girls and women so they feel confident enough to handle a potentially dangerous situation on their own and win.

But it didn’t end there.

After two long years went by in search of Ali’s killer, and with T.A.K.E steadily growing, Roger knew that he would not be able to rest easy until the perpetrator was apprehended. With the investigation ongoing, Roger decided to go a step further and contacted a local advertising agency to put up a couple of large billboards on major highways in the hopes of garnering more attention. Fortunately, the strategy worked. In 2004, Ali’s killer was eventually caught with the help of the billboards and since then, numerous other billboards of the same manner have led to the capture of more criminals nationwide.

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Roger Kemp pictured here infront of the billboard that caught his daughter’s killer. Source: People.com

Watch this video to get more insight into Ali’s Story and her father’s journey to combat violence against women.

As stated in the video, as of 2011, T.A.K.E has seen over 38,000 women, young and old, pass through its self-defense program.

Roger Kemp’s efforts were also acknowledged by the White House in 2011, when he was one of 13 recipients to receive the prestigious Presidential Citizens Medal presented by President Barack Obama himself.

Barack Obama, Roger Kemp
Roger Kemp (left) is pictured with President Obama Source: Blogs.Kansascity.com

You can view the ceremony here.

The T.A.K.E foundation is currently head-quartered in Kansas, but I do hope they eventually expand their operations to Canada. I would be delighted to take part in such a great cause – and invite the women closest to me to join me.

Seeing how one family’s perseverance in the face of tragedy has led to such proactive change in protecting women and children just goes to show you that when you tell yourself that falling apart simply isn’t an option, you can make great things happen that will make a positive impact on the entire world.

You’ve got two choices: You can pull the covers over your head and stay in bed, or you can get out…and fight it. – Roger Kemp


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