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Quiet Generosity

by Lynn Christene Bilton,

For many years, I was a volunteer with TEAD – Equestrian Association for the Disabled. Several of our classes included students who attended W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in Brantford. Staff members from the school always spoke highly of Walter Gretzky’s generosity to the school. When there was a need, it was quietly looked after by Walter and his son Wayne.

TEAD held a major fundraiser each year called “A Night at the Races” at Marriott Hall on the Ancaster Fairgrounds. One of the evening’s events was a silent auction that Walter always donated to. Often the auction item was one of his famous “hockey stick benches” which perennially fetched a good dollar in aid of our riding program.

“Run for Light” is the annual 5 kilometer run and walk held to benefit W. Ross Macdonald School. Most years, a group of TEAD volunteers would participate. It is an event held on a spring evening with runners and walkers all wearing glow-stick necklaces which adds to the magical effect.

One year our entourage of walkers included a yellow lab owned by a couple in our group. Part way through our walk, we caught up with another group of participants that included Walter. He inquired about the dog who had been schooled as an assistance-dog. We were all wearing TEAD shirts and he wanted to know details about our therapeutic riding program. I had the distinct impression, there was nowhere else he would rather be, nothing else he would rather be doing, and no one else he would rather be with, than our gaggle of friends. His genuine interest plus sincerity shone.

I had the privilege of meeting Walter at a few other events. Each and every time, I observed that his eyes twinkled. And he was always smiling.

My encounters with Walter are treasured memories. I am honoured to have met this gentleman, who quietly did good things throughout his life.

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