Virgil Walker is running on fumes, but come 7 p.m. Friday, he’ll happily slide behind the wheel of his car and point it toward Detroit.
After weeks of scrimping, saving and doing whatever odd jobs he can find, Walker and a carload of family is heading across the country to meet up with his son, Devundrick — aka Booda — a senior-to-be at Aurora’s Gateway High School who is set to compete in the 2013 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Michigan. He is ranked first in the country in both the 800 and 1,500 meter runs.
The trip for the weeklong competition requires airline travel for Devundrick and one of his coaches, Virgil’s sister Latrina Walker, from Austin, Texas — where he’s been training all summer — plus gas money for the Walker family’s cross country drive, lodging and food at a cost of an estimated $3,500.
It’s money the family just doesn’t have in its budget, so Virgil Walker launched an online campaign to help raise funds for Devundrick’s trip in addition to small jobs washing cars, doing mechanic work, working as referee and DJ. The Gateway PTA kicked in with a very generous donation and the Walkers’ Indiegogo campaign had $960 pledged with eight hours to go before its deadline.
Walker is grateful for all the contributions and is looking forward to seeing his son — who told him he had a dream of running in the Olympics at the age of 6 — compete in the Junior Olympics and hopefully catch the eye of some big college track programs.
“I already told my landlord the rent is going to be late. …we might not get everything that we need, but we’re going to make this happen,” Walker said Thursday. “Devundrick is stoked. He told me, ‘Dad, I’m as strong as I’ve been,’ so we’re looking for good things.”
As a junior at Gateway, Devundrick Walker finished second in the 800 meters, 12th in the 1,600 meters and anchored Gateway’s 3rd-place 4×400 relay team at the Class 5A state meet in May.
Shortly after school, he went down to stay with family and run for an old coach in Austin, where’s he improved tremendously. Walker will run at the Junior Olympics under the International Flight club team banner, but has a lot of pride in Aurora and Gateway.
To contribute to Walker’s travel fund, visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/booda-s-olympic-dream
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555