Cindy Bither
Administrative Assistant
P: (540) 464-7207
F: (540) 464-7443

111 Smith Hall
Lexington, VA 24450

Turning a ‘Rat Mass’ into a ‘Rat Class’

FullTextImage/img/@altFourth Class cadets finish off a "burpee" pushup. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.

New Cadets Seeking Donations to Class Unity Fundraiser for Veterans

LEXINGTON, Va., Nov. 8, 2013 – Attempting to forge class unity for a good cause, members of the class of 2017 will hold a stamina-testing fundraiser on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

On that date, 4th Class cadets will gather in the courtyard of Old Barracks at 11:15 p.m. to do as many “burpees” as possible in seven minutes. A “burpee” is a squat thrust exercise in which an individual begins in a standing position, squats, extends his or her legs behind, and then returns to a standing position.

Funds raised from this activity will benefit the Military Warriors Support Foundation, an organization that provides housing for wounded veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Members of the class have set a fundraising goal of $30,000 – in part, to see if they can top the Class of 2016, which raised $20,000 during a similar effort last year, explained Lt. Col. Kevin Faust ’96, assistant commandant. As of Nov. 8, funds pledged for this year’s fundraiser stood at over $8,500. Faust explained that the fundraisers are intended to give 4th Class cadets an outlet for their energy and a way to show upperclassmen that they are bonding as Brother Rats.

“The rats always feel compelled to do something to prove they’re coming together as a class, and to impress the Old Corps and the 1st Class,” said Faust. “In the past we didn’t channel that energy toward positive things.”

This year, he said, members of the 1st Class told the 4th Class cadets right away that they had to find a positive project as an outlet.

At that point, Cadet Ryan Comper ’17 stepped up to organize a fundraiser. Comper said that he got interested in doing something for others after hearing Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, speak at VMI earlier this fall. Greitens now runs a charity, The Mission Continues, which challenges veterans to give back to their communities.

One of Comper’s mentors, Cadet Matthew Ray ’14, suggested the Military Warriors Support Foundation as the beneficiary of this year’s fundraiser. Comper himself came up with the idea of doing “burpees,” because a gym in his hometown of Danville, Va., holds a “burpee” fundraiser each year for breast cancer research.

“I hope this will bring us all together and help us unify – show the upperclassmen that we’re ready to become a class,” said Comper, who hopes to commission in the Marine Corps after graduation.

“I also hope that we can raise money for an awesome cause, which is putting someone who’s sacrificed an awful lot for our country in a home.”

To donate to the fundraiser, visit

–Mary Price