Mark Zimmerer accomplished a great deal in his 16 years. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout when he was just 14 and served in many leadership positions in his troop. In his two years at Holy Angels High School, he earned honors for academic achievement all four semesters, played forward on the basketball team, sang in in the school choir and was a writer for the school newspaper.
He was an altar server in his parish, St. Bartholomew, and co-founder of an archdiocesan-wide youth group called Hands of Christ. He served as the first state director of Kentucky Youth for Life. And he worked at the YMCA as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.
“Sometimes God just prepares people, and I think that was true in our son’s case,” said his father, Jerry Zimmerer ’74. “I think he had a sense that he didn’t have that many years.”
In 1999, Mark was riding his bike to the YMCA to teach a preschool swim class when he was hit by a car. He died of head injuries the next day. His mother, Regina Zimmerer ’76, inquired about organ donation, and the family agreed that was what Mark would have wanted. “Starting with the organ donations, I can see how God has used Mark’s death in a powerful way in others’ lives,” Jerry wrote in a reflection a year later.
Mark Zimmerer will continue to make a difference in others’ lives through a scholarship that his parents have established in his name at Bellarmine University, where they have deep roots. They met at the university and embraced a full student life, Jerry said. “We’d often get to campus at 8 in the morning and not leave till around midnight. Through our involvement in student life, we became friends with many faculty and administrators, including Msgr. Horrigan and Fr. Treece.”
Regina and Jerry were members of the Cardinal Section program moderated by Dr. Margaret Mahoney. Jerry wrote for The Concord, the student newspaper, for three years and served as the editor for The Lance his junior year. Elected as student body president his senior year, he served on the Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee that selected Dr. Eugene Petrik; after graduation, he served on the Board of Overseers. Regina and Jerry have remained ardent Knights fans, holding season tickets to basketball games since 1974. Jerry served as Booster Association president and both he and Regina worked with Jim Spalding for 10 years at the Friday night bingo in Knights Hall.
The Zimmerers appreciate that Bellarmine has sought to maintain its Catholic identity, as their Catholic faith is central to their lives. It sustained them following Mark’s death and helped them to be there for their five other children.
Part of the motivation for establishing a scholarship fund was their love for Bellarmine. But mostly, “we wanted something that would provide a more lasting legacy for Mark,” Jerry said. “Our son never got to attend college. I think he would have been a great kid. His best friend is now the principal of Immaculata Classical Academy, and I’m sure Mark would have done something similar.”
The Mark Zimmerer Endowed Scholarship “gives us a sense that his memory will be preserved and that others will benefit from his example. He will continue to inspire others even after we’re gone, as he inspired us.”