Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tom Walter

Most of the people that coach any type of sport do it because they love the game, love being around the game and mentoring players. Tom Walter is no different.

Tom Walter is the head baseball coach at Wake Forest University. Tom Walter is a kidney donor.

Kevin Jordan is an outfielder on the Wake Forest baseball team. A freshman from Columbus, Georgia, Kevin became sick about a year ago with what most thought was the flu. He was eventually diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis, a condition which your white blood cells begin to destroy your own tissue. His kidneys began to fail and he had to have dialysis treatments three times per week.

Kevin Jordan was one of Tom Walter's kids. If you have ever coached, especially at the college level, it is easy to take on the role of a parent or big brother when a player is several hours away from home. Your only role is not to help them become better at their athletic skill, but also teach them about life (although the stereotype of many 18-22 year olds is they know all they need, many of those I deal with aren't as naive and are worried about job prospects, student loan debt and life after baseball).

Tom Walter was eventually tested to see if he was a match to possibly give a kidney to Kevin. He was. Coach Walter decided that he was going to give Kevin one of his kidneys. Way more valuable than a scholarship or advice, Kevin was going to receive a new outlook on life.

This past Monday was the day. Coach Walter and Kevin Jordan both went into surgery. Monday afternoon, lead surgeon Dr. Kenneth Newell proclaimed the surgery a success. Both are still resting in an Atlanta hospital.

One group, NKF, estimates the five year survival rate for a living kidney transplant at 90 percent. Let's hope this story plays out the right way. While it is unknown if Kevin will ever be able to play again, the fact that he now has been given hope of seeing his twenties and beyond makes him a winner.

But it makes Tom Walter Coach of the Year.

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