The Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund/Rayz Awareness 5K run raised over $300,000 over the last 20 years.
It has been 18 years since Bill Walter III died from Melanoma skin cancer. Although his passing was tough for his widow, Kathy, she now views his Melanoma condition as a blessing, thanks to the The Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund.
“We’ve met a lot of incredible people, and we’ve been able to help a lot of wonderful people along the way,” she said. “It’s brought people together and really helped with our grief. Out of tragedy comes blessings.”
Several months prior to Bill’s passing, his family and friends began the Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund/Rayz Awareness 5K run. This past weekend, after 20 years, they decided to conclude the fundraising event with a final race on April 1, at the Granada beach approach.
Austin Walter was among those who ran (he won his age division) in the final 5K race. The race and research fund have always meant a great deal to him, because he’s Bill Walter’s son.
“I just kept running for him,” Austin said. “As for this being the 20th and likely last race, it still hasn’t hit me yet. But, I know t’s been impactful. There have been a lot of families positively affected by what they do here.”
When his father died, Austin was 5 years old. Although he doesn’t remember much in those years, Austin says, “I know is he was a great guy, and that his memory lives on. A lot of people tell me that I have some of his characteristics, so I think I’m blessed in that way.”
According to Bill Walter’s father, Bill Walter Jr., the 20-year 5K event has raised more than $300,000, which he says has either contributed to Melanoma research for a potential cure of gifting patients who needed help with treatments or any other necessities.
Bill Walter Jr. thanked all who have volunteered for the event throughout the years, including race director Donna Hiatt, who directed the event for 19 years after participating in the first race (she lost her younger brother to Melanoma), and Bill III’s former classmates Doug Denison, Bill’s best friend, co-founder and president of the research fund Tim Richardson, Roger Scott, Bonnie Hosey and Sheila Harlacher.