Young Life Alumni Awards

​Blake Mycoskie

2016 Distinguished Young Life Alumnus Award

Blake Mycoskie was first introduced to Young Life as a high school student in Arlington, Texas. According to Blake, “[Young Life] was a very important part of my spiritual development and me becoming a Christian.” Upon high school graduation, Blake headed to Dallas, where he attended Southern Methodist University and eventually became a Young Life leader. During this season, Blake accompanied students to Young Life camp and also served on summer staff at Windy Gap one summer as a horse wrangler.

Today, Blake Mycoskie is founder and chief shoe giver of TOMS®, and the person behind the idea of One for One®, a business model that helps a person in need with every product purchased.

Since 2006, TOMS Shoes has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children, and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 400,000 since 2011. “In 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was founded with the mission to help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby. As of 2016, TOMS has supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers.” (

Blake is also the author of Start Something That Matters, and has received accolades including the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award of Corporate Excellence (ACE), and being named on Fortune magazine’s 2011 “40 under 40” list, recognizing him as one of the top young businessmen in the world.

When asked if there were any lessons learned during his involvement with Young Life that influenced him and the formation of TOMS, he cited two.

“One of my main take-aways from being a Young Life leader was the concept of ‘meeting kids where they are.’ I remember we’d have club and there would be kids out front beforehand smoking. I thought it was cool that they felt just as welcome as anyone else. As I’ve built the TOMS brand and company, I’ve done the same thing; I’ve met people where they are as I lead them. ‘Earning the right to be heard’ was another key lesson I picked up. When you first sign on to be a leader as a college kid, you’re full of enthusiasm and light on wisdom. You just have to jump in — it is a little like sink or swim — and learn as you go. Honestly, teenagers are the hardest audience — they can be intimidating! But by showing up I saw real change take place.

“The link between Young Life and TOMS is really a philosophical one. We share the ideal of service to others. In Young Life, that’s through building relationships that meet spiritual needs. In TOMS, we’ve taken on meeting differen​t needs, like shoes and eyesight. Both come out of the common Christian ideal of serving others; being a good steward. You hope that your values come across in your service and seeds are planted.”

Blake, thank you for the difference you’re making in the lives of so many people around the world. We’re proud to honor you as our 2016 “Distinguished Alumnus Award” recipient.  

Frank and Sally Walker

2016 Alumni Service to Young Life Award

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’re 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 in 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. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Frank and Sally,” said Knipp, who now serves as vice president of Training for Young Life. “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 helped with the search for a new Young Life property in Michigan. In 1999 property was purchased, and in 2001, Timber Wolf Lake opened. In 2000, before the camp was “open,” Frank was involved in the urban Young Life club on the north side of Flint, Michigan. During this time, 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 in the summer of 2016. 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 45 years, Frank and Sally spoke of bike trips and their time on regional committee. They reflected on having visited 12 Young Life camps and 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’ve had the opportunity to meet and the many changed lives they’ve witnessed over the years.

Frank and Sally, thank you for four-and-a-half decades of volunteer service to Young Life. Whether as leaders, committee members, financial partners, mentors or bicycle trip planners, you’re an inspiration to us all. We’re 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!