Tom Walter, GWSB MBA, ’94, should be taking it easy. But all he can think about is running again.
Walter, who became GW’s winningest coach during eight years with the Colonials and now is head coach at Wake Forest University, donated a kidney on Monday to a freshman member of the Wake Forest baseball team. Surgeons at the Emory Transplant Center in Atlanta said the donor and his recipient, Kevin Jordan, were both doing well. To see a video of this story, please click here.
“I’ve known Tom since the ’90s. Knowing Tom and talking to his family, the [transplant] news didn’t surprise me,” said Ed McKee, GW’s director of Athletic Alumni Programs. “It’s the kind of guy he is.”
Walter was head coach at GW from 1997 to 2004. In 2002, the year he led the team to the NCAA Tournament, five Colonials were taken in the MLB Draft—the most players taken from the school in a single year, McKee said. By the time he left GW, Walter had posted a 275-184 record.
At Wake Forest, he again looked to develop talented young players. One of his first prospects was Jordan, an all-city baseball player in Columbus, Ga. Jordan signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Wake Forest in November 2009. Five months later, he was diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis, an autoimmune condition that resulted in kidney failure, and, ended up on dialysis.
It was several months before Walter learned the seriousness of Jordan’s condition and discovered that family members were not suitable donors. That’s when he stepped forward. On Jan. 28, 2011, the first day of spring training, Walter got the call letting him know he was a match for Jordan.
It wasn’t the first time the coach was confronted by the unexpected. Before joining Wake Forest, Walter spent five seasons at the University of New Orleans. He’d barely settled into that job when Hurricane Katrina hit.
“He’s fearless in the sense of adjusting to challenging situations. The first thing he faced when he went to New Orleans was the flood in September 2005,” McKee said. “The university was underwater and he had to scramble to get his team together.”
With his own house flooded, Walter set up headquarters in his parents’ Virginia home as he worked to reunite his team and get them to New Mexico State University, which had offered to cover team members’ housing and tuition. That’s where another GWSB alumnus, W. Russell Ramsey, BBA, ’81, stepped in. Ramsey provided his corporate jet so Walter could travel to Baton Rouge and pick up as many players as could make it there. Ramsey stocked the jet with clothing and supplies for the players.