2013 Distinguished Alumni Award: Alfred “Al” Midgett ’79
Al Midgett is a member of the Ferrum College class of 1979. He is an author, founder of The Noblemen, and father of a miracle son who inspired an entire grassroots movement to change lives and empower others to do “Noble Deeds.” Kirk Brammer ’81, a classmate, says of Al that he has gone from ordinary to extraordinary by aligning his life’s work with the mission statement of Ferrum College, “Not Self, But Others.”
The inspiration for his life’s work came when, after many unsuccessful years of trying to start their family, he and his wife Margaret welcomed their son, Matthew, who was born 17 weeks premature with very low odds of survival. After four months in a neonatal intensive care unit, their tiny son came home on Midgett’s birthday. At this point the family faced insurmountable debt and had no health insurance, but thanks to family, friends, and neighbors who came to their aid they were able to make it.
In his effort to “balance the gift” and show his appreciation of all the help he and his wife had received, Midgett formed The Robin Hoods of Virginia Beach. This small group grew to more than 300 members over 17 years and performed many good deeds for others. After learning that their chosen name was owned and trademarked, the group was renamed The Noblemen in 2006.
The Noblemen, and Midgett, are deeply rooted and very well connected in the Tidewater area. One event, “The Noblemen Reason for the Season,” raises money and gifts for more than 200 families with children who have cerebral palsy. At the end of a gala celebration, members of the community and local college students load new toys into the trailers for delivery. According to Brammer, “The Noblemen are raising money and having a blast doing it. I attended the event at the Virginia Aquarium. The things he has accomplished and the people I met that he and his Noblemen group have helped are just amazing.” He adds, “on another occasion and with the blessing of the base commander of Oceana Naval Base, they take the families to see the Blue Angels fly in a private session. You should see them in the officials’ viewing stand … the happiness and deep appreciation in their eyes.”
The Noblemen example has evolved into a philanthropic model for other communities and benefits deserving children in need as well as participants and donors. The organization has since grown to include NobleWomen, NobleTeens, NobleKids, and even NoblePets.
In 2012 Midgett published his story as a guide for nonprofits in a book titled, Normal to Noble, incorporating his specialties of leadership, community service, branding, event organization, writing, and public speaking.
Midgett will participate in the Ferrum College Executive in Residence program on March 27, 2014. Brammer is certain that he will have a great impact on those attending, and says, “Al has a message for all of us … noble people doing noble deeds. Why not in Franklin County … why not at Ferrum?”