Magnet meets milestone
by Rock Roszak '71
The Virginia Tech Memorial Magnet project reached a major milestone in November when its 10,000th magnet was sold, meeting the goal established at the project's launch in 2005. Since then, the project has produced a unique connection between the corps of cadets and the athletics department.
The memorial project honors the service of 1st Lt. Jeff Kaylor (management science and information technology '01), killed on April 7, 2003, during the initial invasion of Iraq, and 1st Lt. Tim Price (forestry '01), killed by a Baghdad sniper on Sept. 7, 2004. Shortly after Price's death, Locke White, the university's licensing director, suggested creating a piece of merchandise that would honor these fine young men, and the idea of a memorial magnet grew from there.
The project was introduced to the university community at halftime during the Virginia Tech-U.Va. men's basketball game on Jan. 27, 2005. Director of Athletics Jim Weaver joined Jenna Kaylor (business information technology '01), Jeff's widow, and John Price, Tim's father, at mid-court to announce the program. The magnets went on sale the next day with the ambitious goal of selling 10,000 to raise $100,000 for two scholarships established in memory of Kaylor and Price.
The athletics department's support for the project did not end with that introduction. For the next two football seasons, the Hokies wore a decal of the memorial magnet on their helmets, and Jeff and Jim were honored in the game notes. More than a year ago, the corps began to sell a small lapel pin of the memorial logo, an initiative strongly supported by the athletics department. The head coaches for the men's and women's basketball, swimming, and men's track teams bought pins for every member of their coaching staffs.
Men's basketball Head Coach Seth Greenberg wore his memorial pin during many of the Hokies' games last season. Because so many games were televised, the corps received numerous comments about Greenberg's support. I received a memorable e-mail from Jenna Kaylor one morning after she had watched a televised game and had seen Greenberg wearing "Jeff's pin." The coach has told me several times that he believes the corps of cadets is an important element of the Virginia Tech experience.
The magnet program remains strong and has given us great opportunities to get to know many alumni and their families, such as Peggy Reed, wife of Raymond Reed (industrial engineering '57). Peggy has been an ardent supporter of the program and is never without magnets and pins that she will sell to any Hokie she meets. Last homecoming, for instance, she bought 25 magnets and sold them all before the football game had even started. As of mid-November 2007, Peggy had sold 300 magnets and enough pins to single-handedly raise $4,000 for the memorial scholarships.
Now that the initial goal has been met, we're looking ahead. The program will continue as long as fans, friends, and alumni wish to show their pride in Virginia Tech and the service rendered by the university's alumni. Magnets and pins are sold at all University Bookstore outlets, the Tech Bookstore, and Maroonhelmet.com.
Col. Rock Roszak '71, USAF (Ret.), is the alumni director for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.