By now, it’s common knowledge that crowdfunding can raise a large amount of money in a short period of time. But even with this in mind, the speed and outstanding success of funding the Benjamin “Finney” Kimsey ’09 Academic Scholarship was a surprise to all involved.
Kimsey, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom with three deployments to his credit, served as president of the Class of 2009. He died Nov. 4, 2020. Following his funeral and burial at Arlington National Cemetery April 29, 2022, the scores of brother rats in attendance discussed the best way to raise additional funds for a scholarship in memory of Kimsey. These brother rats, of both Kimsey and his twin brother, David Kimsey ’06, had already begun fundraising shortly after Kimsey’s death. Initially, however, the amount raised for the scholarship stood at less than $4,000.
“We wanted to do something to keep [Kimsey’s] memory and spirit alive within our class,” Bradley Simpson ’09, class agent, said of those early efforts to get the scholarship established.
With that goal in mind, Simpson and Barrett Luxhoj ’09, Class of 2009 vice president, approached the VMI Alumni Agencies. They hoped to raise $25,000 by June 30, 2022, the end of the Agencies’ fiscal year, but in an amazing show of support, brother rats and other members of the VMI family blew past that goal in less than 48 hours and unlocked a $10,000 challenge gift offered by Reza Eftekhar ’09.
In the true VMI spirit, the organizers set a new goal of $35,000 and 50 donors. When the clock struck midnight June 30, the Kimsey scholarship had attracted the support of 56 members of the VMI family and reached a total of $35,182.
“The Class of 2009 demonstrated the sincere power of the VMI spirit through their generous acts,” said Patti Cook, VMI Alumni Agencies director of annual and reunion giving. “Theirs is a great example of how gifts both large and small can really move the needle to make a difference for cadets today and in the future.”
Those who knew Kimsey well expressed how his drive and determination inspired others and likely motivated the success of the scholarship drive. “It goes to the character of who [Kimsey] was, the man he was within our class,” Simpson noted.
“He always made you feel like you were best friends,” he continued. “He [was] always just that kind of person. He was the glue that kind of held the class together.”
Kimsey’s father, MacGregor Kimsey, is a member of the VMI family in his own right, as he’s an adjunct professor in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies.
“My heart is with everything VMI represents,” said MacGregor, noting that their family has a long record of military service. He recalled when his deceased son, then studying at Virginia Commonwealth University, learned that his twin brother was going to be deployed to Afghanistan, he immediately traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and convinced his brother’s commanders that he should also be deployed.
“He couldn’t rest knowing his twin was in harm’s way,” MacGregor remarked. The scholarship, he believes, is a way for his son’s spirit of generosity and service to live on. “Think of the future cadets that will be blessed by this [scholarship],” he commented. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist
The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.