People like Eddi Walker make the world go round

Eddi Walker is going to kill me for this, but some things just need to be put on record.

Nobody means more to the sports scene in the Mining City than Eddi.

There would be no Butte Sports Hall of Fame. There would be no Veterans Day Race. There would be no butter on your popcorn at the Silver Bow Drive-In without Eddi.

Well, at least none of those things would be what they are today without her.

As she helped set up the Maroon Activities Center for the Butte Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet earlier this month, Eddi called her friend and fellow invaluable volunteer Pat Lee up to the stage for a photo. Then the two posed for a photo in the chairs where Hall of Famers would later be interviewed by Ron Davis as they were inducted.

“This is the closest we’ll ever get to being in the Butte Sports Hall of Fame,” Eddi joked as I snapped a few photos.

The thing is, Eddi definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame for her contributions to sports — and much more — in Butte. I cannot think of one contributor who has done more than Eddi.

Eddi and Pat were responsible for all of the food, drinks and décor at the Hall of Fame. They are every year. To me, they are worth William Perry’s weight in gold.

Neither of them ever gets to watch much of the induction ceremonies, either. They are too busy taking care of everything else, making sure all the guests have what they need.

By the time Eddi showed up to decorate the MAC and set up for dinner on Saturday afternoon, she had already put in a shift volunteering at the concession stand at the ASA State softball tournament being played in Butte.

Then, after everyone was settled after dinner, Eddi went to work at her job selling popcorn at the drive-in. The next day, she was back at the softball tournament, helping out.

The Saturday after that, Eddi was up on the mountain at 4:30 a.m. to volunteer for the Butte 100 Mountain Bike Race, and she has never been a biker.

The week before the Hall of Fame, she was volunteering for the Montana Folk Festival.

Eddi, of course, is a runner. She runs and runs and runs. But when it comes to race day, she is often left working so others can race and win trophies.

So many times, Eddi is out by herself after dark marking race courses so the runners know where to turn. So many times, it has snowed overnight after she marked the course, so she is out at the crack of dawn to do it again.

She redesigned the Veterans Day Race course when the American Legion built a new hall, and she marks the course every year. She starts the runners and then gets behind them to run the race herself.

Usually, though, she is holding a timing device at the finish line. Then she hands out the awards she made sure were there in the first place.

Eddi always runs the first — and by far the longest — leg of the Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run. Then, to ensure the torch makes it to town in time for the Special Olympians to run the final leg, Eddi runs a couple more legs.

Fanfare, though, has never been why Eddi has done so much for the community. She just feels she needs to do it so the events can go on.

After a recent blood donation, Eddi turned down a photo to publicize her great many donations. She was doing it to save lives, not to get her picture on a plaque.

Nobody donates more blood than Eddi, too. She has been rolling up her sleeves every eight weeks since 1979. There is no way to tell just how many people are walking around today with Eddi’s blood running through their veins.

Eddi is also working through what has to be a great deal of pain. She has a torn rotator cuff in one of her shoulders, but it has not slowed down her training for an upcoming triathlon.

Can you imagine trying to do the American crawl with a torn rotator cuff?  Her physical therapist tells her not to, but she does anyway.

Can you even imagine trying to comb your hair with a torn rotator cuff?

When Eddi went to a doctor recently, he wanted Eddi to undergo surgery to repair her shoulder right away. She said it will have to wait until October, at the earliest.

Eddi just has too much to do.

She is either the toughest woman I know or the craziest. She unapologetically says it is the latter. Most amazing people have a little bit of crazy in them.

For all the work Eddi does, she never takes a dime. In fact, she shelled out a lot of her own money to make sure the Hall of Fame went off without a hitch. While she will be reimbursed for the money she spent — most of it anyway — it is her time that is so invaluable.

Volunteers make the world go round. Whether it is a sporting event, a music festival or a Hall of Fame banquet, we owe so much to the people who give their time.

Nobody I know gives more of that time than Eddi. There is not even a close second.

So, when the Butte Sports Hall of Fame voting opens up to the Hall of Famers in January of 2024, I am going to make sure Eddi Walker is one of the names on the ballot. If those Hall of Famers know even half of what Eddi does, she will be a unanimous selection.

Then, Eddi will don a Green Jacket of a Butte Sports Hall of Famer and sit in that chair for her induction interview. It will be real this time, too, not just a photo op.

If there is anyone who deserves to stand up and take a bow, it is Eddi, and I will be the happiest guy in the building watching her take her rightful place among the Butte sports immortals.

That is if she doesn’t kill me for writing this first.

— Bill Foley, who really isn’t afraid of Eddi, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.

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