2016 Service to Young Life Alumni Award: Frank and Sally Walker

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In 1971, Frank and Sally Walker knew very little about Young Life; however, they were intrigued by this group that was trying to get something started in their community of Grand Blanc, Michigan, and accepted the invitation to learn more as adult guests at Frontier Ranch. Forty-five years later, Frank and Sally continue to volunteer with Young Life, and we are proud to name them as recipients of our 2016 “Alumni Service to Young Life Award.”

Upon returning home from Frontier in 1971, Frank and Sally immediately became volunteer leaders in Grand Blanc, helping to start club and lead Campaigners at Grand Blanc High School. During those early years, Frank and Sally were committed to getting kids to camp; however, it would not be via chartered buses or even personal cars. No, they would do so by implementing an idea that area director Stan Voth had dreamed up; they would do so via bicycle! Whether east to Saranac, New York, or west to Silver Cliff in Colorado, the Walkers (and others in their area) hit the road with dozens of kids, dozens of bikes, several support vehicles including a boat trailer that had been converted into a bike trailer, and a camper that would serve as the kitchen. Camping and building relationships along the way, Frank and Sally consider these trips among their fondest memories.

In 1975, Frank and Sally transitioned onto the local Genesee County adult committee and eventually served on the regional committee with regional director Ken Knipp. Today, serving as vice president of Training for Young Life, Ken had this to say about Frank and Sally. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Frank and Sally. They are two of the most selfless people I have ever met. They have made a difference in the lives of hundreds of people, both directly and indirectly. They are unflagging in their commitment to serve Christ and to love people.” 

In the late ‘90s, while still serving on committee and supporting the local ministry financially, Frank and Sally got involved in the search for a new Young Life property in Michigan. In 1999 property was purchased, and in 2001, Timber Wolf Lake opened. During these years, Frank was involved in the urban Young Life club on the north side of Flint, Michigan, and he would take kids camping on the property. Sixteen years later, at the age of 83, Frank is still involved with the Young Life mentoring program on the north side of Flint, and he and Sally served as adult guest hosts at Timber Wolf Lake last summer. In the words of Young Life Divisional Campaign Director, Michael Miller, “Frank and Sally have been pillars of Young Life in Genesee County for approaching five decades. Frank Walker has influenced countless kids and adults for Christ by relentlessly showing up. He quietly and humbly wins the right to be heard and just keeps on doing it. If Young Life had an “Energizer Bunny” award it would go to Frank Walker, hands down!”

When asked about their fondest memories of the past forty-five years, Frank and Sally spoke of bike trips and their time on regional committee. They reflected on having visited 12 Young Life camps, including attending the Malibu Club 50th Anniversary Cruise. They celebrated the establishment and growth of Timber Wolf Lake, “from an empty field to a wonderful camp.” However, they truly lit up when they recalled the amazing people they have had the opportunity to meet and the many changed lives they have witnessed over the years.

Frank and Sally, thank you for 4.5 decades of volunteer service to Young Life. Whether as leaders, committee members, financial partners, mentors or bicycle trip planners, you are an inspiration to us all. We are so grateful for you, so proud to call you our own, and so privileged to honor you as our 2016 “Alumni Service to Young Life Award” recipients!