Phil Walden ‘All Comers’ track meet set
By Mindy Cooper/The Portland Observer
Track sports enthusiasts and residents from throughout the city are invited to a track meet community event on Tuesday, July 24, at Grant High School, in honor of Mr. Phil Walden, who passed away last summer.
The festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with food and a social hour. Registration will follow at 5:30 p.m., before the track events begin at 6 p.m.
For nearly 50 years, Walden impacted the lives of many generations of youth, as a mentor in the black community, a father figure, coach, and friend. Even in tough financial times, he would often spend his own resources to make sure that every kid had the opportunity to participate in sports.
“We want to keep his (Walden) name out there because he touched so many people,” said John Mays, track coach at Benson High School and Concordia University. “Not just inner city, but kids from all over the state to give them an opportunity.”
According to Mays, Walden was a ‘grassroots coach’, who touched thousands of youth’s lives by reaching out to them and encouraging them to participate in sports going back to the 60s.
“He would take kids to track meets. He worked with inner city kids to give them an opportunity to participate in sports,” said Mays, who said his influenced spanned from the Albina community to Gresham and Beaverton.
Mays said he knows first-hand the affect Walden had as an advocate for youth to be successful.
“That is what he did for me. He kept me on the right track from being on the streets,” he said.
Those who knew him said Walden was a man who never complained or asked for anything in return, except that kids continue their education with the goal of becoming a college graduate.
“We are trying to continue his name in regards to all the people he has touched,” Mays said.
Walden was known as a true pioneer and an unsung hero in the community. Everyone is invited to attend the track event and celebrate the life and contributions of this legendary man.
Registration will be $2 per athlete, who will have the opportunity to participate in an unlimited number of races.
For additional information, or to volunteer for the event, call Leon McKenzie at 503-757-6347 or John Mays at 503-312-5863.