Seeing Travis Walters encouraging his young players on the football field or baseball diamond, it might not be obvious that he’s struggling to win something much bigger than the games he’s coaching. 

For the past four years, Walters has been battling a rare, aggressive form of cancer that has progressed to stage 4.

A Harvard native, Walters now lives in Wonder Lake with his wife, Rachel, and two children, 8-year-old Ben, who attends Greenwood Elementary School, and 4-year-old Brooklyn, a preschooler at First United Methodist Church. Well-known in his community as a volunteer coach for the St. Mary youth football program and Woodstock Little League, he has quietly endured three major surgeries over the last four years to remove his thyroid, a large neck muscle, his jugular vein and tumors and a blood clot on his lung. He is currently being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Walters has been very private about his health issues, but friends wanted to do something to show their support and to help make the financial results of his situation less devastating.

Travis and Rachel Walters – both graduates of Harvard Community High School – met and married in their hometown, where they lived until 2005 when they moved to Wonder Lake. As their children grew, Travis Walters combined his love of sports with that of his children and began coaching the teams his son was on. The parents he interacts with as a coach are organizing the benefit.

“Travis doesn’t feel sorry for himself,” said Rachel Walters, adding that he continues to go to work and play on his adult flag football team. She said it’s hard, however, when they have to leave the kids for a week each time they travel to Minnesota for radiation treatments.

A benefit fundraiser is planned from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 5, at the McHenry Athletic Complex, 1310 Ridgefield Road, Crystal Lake. Activities for the entire family will include a pizza dinner, raffles, a silent auction and use of the basketball court. 

Tickets will be sold at the door, $12 for adults to include dinner, $10 for children ages 6 to 12, and children age 6 and younger will participate at no charge. Donations are welcome and can be sent to Travis Walters, P.O. Box 291, Wonder Lake, IL 60097.

For information, call Mary Klein at 262-215-4535.

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