Jim Lighthizer '84 wanted to give back to the school that gave so much to him. But he wasn't sure how, until Kathy Kenny was promoted to Head of School in July of 2015.
That's when Lighthizer became more engaged in the Gilmour community. After all, Kenny was his former English teacher. "My respect for her and the compassion she showed students motivated me to become a more active alum," Lighthizer says.
Being "a more active alum" has come to life in the form of a restricted scholarship the Lighthizers created. It will benefit a single Gilmour student over four years. The couple plans to then fully endow the scholarship to support future Gilmour students in perpetuity.
The Lighthizers had thought about giving to institutions before, but it often left them feeling unfulfilled. And then it hit them.
"We wanted to help individuals, not institutions," Lighthizer says. "When I see Gilmour alums and how successful they are, they might not have had the same success if they had not received financial assistance to attend Gilmour. So, my wife, Jennifer, and I thought endowing a scholarship was one way we could help a student in a meaningful way. It will have an impact for a long time to come."
The Lighthizer Scholarship benefits a student with financial need who has an interest in extracurricular activities, including sports. Lighthizer himself was an avid athlete at Gilmour, having participated in baseball, basketball, football and track. "Sports provide a foundation for character, teamwork, discipline and hard work," Lighthizer says. "I believe that sports prepare students for life. We all learn a lot from being in the trenches together."
And for Lighthizer, "teamwork" is really what this gift is about.
"There's a personal connection between me and Gilmour," Lighthizer says. "Gilmour gave a lot to me at a time when I really needed it, and Gilmour is a big part of who I am today. I think it's important to give to the places and people who gave to you. It's about that circle of giving."
For the Lighthizers, the gift also is about providing an opportunity for a student who might not have otherwise had the same opportunity, and who stands to gain a lot from it.
"This is part of a larger effort for us to help kids and students," Lighthizer says. "And if somebody reads this article and decides that they want to do something to help somebody, then it's even more worthwhile."