June 27, 2013
Register Today for the Run For Walk!
By Hillary Thomas
EVANSTON, Ill. -- An event perfect for leisure and competitive runners alike, the July 28 Run for Walk honors late Northwestern Head Coach Randy Walker and is the perfect opportunity to support Northwestern Athletics and the event's beneficiary, Evanston's local animal shelter C.A.R.E.
"It's an honor to work on behalf of the memory of [late Head Coach] Randy Walker," says race director Shawn Sullivan. "I want to do everything I can to use our resources and our assets here to increase registration so we have more people at the event, more people supporting Northwestern athletics, more people are here to get a ticket to a football game, and C.A.R.E is going to receive more money from the event."
Last year, the inaugural Run for Walk welcomed nearly 1,000 Northwestern supporters of Coach Walker. What began as a 5K family walk transformed into an official Chicago Area Runner Association certified event, and is now a race suited to both leisure and competitive runners alike. According to Sullivan, the purpose behind converting the walk into an official run was to increase partner participation with the event as well as to attract an even greater number of participants.
This July, the run's course will trace a special path; one which Coach Walker frequently used for walks with his family and their dog, which they adopted from C.A.R.E. Sullivan says that C.A.R.E was the first organization Coach Walker's wife, Tammy Walker, suggested during collaboration on the event.
"You want your loved ones to be remembered, and this is a great remembrance for Randy because of the tie in with the animal shelter," Tammy Walker says. "I'd bring the dog in when he had the kids running sprints at the end of practice, and sometimes he'd let the dog start running with them. They were fun guys and it was entertaining to watch this 250-pound guy go out of his way to avoid the dog."
Walker describes her husband's coaching style as demanding and intense. Before joining Northwestern's football program in 1999, Coach Walker earned a record of 96-81-5 as the Head of Coach of Miami Ohio, putting him at No. 27 on the National Collegiate Athletic Association's list for active coaches. During his eight-year stint at Northwestern, Coach Walker led the Wildcats to three bowl games and the 2000 Big Ten Championship, earning the conference's Coach of the Year award that season.
Walker says her husband brought consistency to Northwestern's football program, and watched proudly in Jacksonville as the Wildcats earned their first bowl victory in 64 years.
"I just had a really good feeling about this year," Walker says. "It was very emotional for a lot of people, particularly those of use that have been around for a while."
Sullivan says the Wildcats' accomplishment has already increased ticket sales for the coming season, and hopes the victory will also inspire more people to participate in the Run for Walk. Several members of the football team will lend a hand in the event as well Coach Walker's successor, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald.
"Last year Fitz ran the event and did quite well," Sullivan says. "He and Tammy have ordered a public service announcement to be played on WGN, so he's doing everything he can to make sure people know about the event which we really appreciate."
Through the second inaugural Run for Walk, the community will commemorate the memory of Coach Randy Walker.
"He loved Northwestern and he felt very fortunate to be able to coach at a school like this," Walker says. "He was a good husband, a good father, a good coach."
For more information on the Run for Walk and to register for the event, visit NUsports.com/RunForWalk.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!