The torch run hall of fame recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a sustained and significant contribution to the Torch Run movement and Special Olympics at the local, national and international levels. Named for the Law Enforcement Torch Run founder, the Hall of Fame is the most prestigious award given in the torch run community worldwide. The induction was announced at the organization’s international conference in November.
“I choose to spend my time working with Special Olympics,” Walter said. “That’s where my heart is.”
Walter has been involved with the torch run for 16 years in a variety of ways on the local and state level and, in recent years, in an international capacity. She has organized Polar Plunge winter fundraisers, raised more than $50,000 at various events, served on two torch run Final Leg teams by representing Wisconsin as a runner at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in China and as a running team leader at the World Winter Games in Idaho. Walter has mentored athletes and served on the Special Olympics of Wisconsin Board of Directors, in addition to sitting on the state torch run council.
“She is a team player, energetic, motivational, resourceful and dependable,” said Julie Buedding, torch run director of development for Wisconsin. “Everything she does is for the athletes of Special Olympics and she expects nothing in return.”
“She has treated me as a person, not as an object of pity. She is never too busy to spend time in conversation with me,” says Martha Hill, a Special Olympics athlete who Walter has mentored over the past several years. “Not everyone has the same comfort level being with people with intellectual disabilities. Sometimes we athletes can sense, in our own way, those who ‘get it.’ I know, in my heart, that Chief Lisa Walter truly does. For Lisa the athletes always come first.”
In 2005 Walter was inducted into the Wisconsin Special Olympics torch run Dale Brunner Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed upon law enforcement officers in Wisconsin.
Walter is working to implement a Special Olympics Wisconsin campus program at UW-Stout.
Special Olympics of Wisconsin provides year-round training and competition opportunities through 17 different Olympic-type sports for nearly 10,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities.