Oakland, CA — A dozen members of the Oakland Fire Department attended Skyline HIgh School’s home baseball game versus McClymonds High on Thursday, March 29 2018, to catch the game and make an important delivery.
The Oakland firefighters, through their union and the department’s non-profit group Random Acts, collected money for the Skyline team after the team’s assistant coach, Jake Walter, was horribly gunned down in San Jose last summer. Walter had been an Oakland Firefighter for just a few months when he was killed. On Thursday, the firefighters donated $3,200 to the Skyline Baseball Team.
Jake Walter graduated from Skyline High School, where he played baseball. As an adult, he felt the draw to continue working with the team. “Baseball was so close to his heart and I think he just couldn’t bear to leave it. I think he believed at one point that it might be a career for him, and when it turned out that it wasn’t, this was a way to prolong it. This was a way to stay in touch,” said Jake’s mother, Kate Walter. “If anything good can come of (Jake’s death), then that’s it. That sense of community, that sense of support. The fact that we’re all here in Oakland to help things improve and get better and this is just one small way to do that.”
Kate Walter and Jake’s father, Jerry, attended the game with the firefighters, and proudly held up the ceremonial donation check made out to the team.
An Oakland Firefighter who went through the academy with Walter, Fernando Uribe, said this kind of effort by the fire department reflects the kind of person Walter was. “He was definitely a leader, wasn’t a follower. He was always willing to help somebody,” he said. “One thing he brought (to the fire service) which I am sure he learned here (at Skyline) was how to be a team player, how to interact with different people, how to help out and how not be selfish.”
A brief ceremony held before the first pitch allowed the two teams to hear from the firefighters who had come to support Skyline and Jake Walter. Firefighter Jim Whitty, who is also Secretary/Treasurer of the Firefighters Union Local 55 and a Board Member of Random Acts spoke afterwards. “There are two funds actually. There’s the fund for the field, where there’s the $3200 and more coming from that. There’s also a scholarship for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Firefighter 1 training, for anybody in the Oakland area, who can’t afford to get those classes, because the prices connected to those classes are just skyrocketing.”
The Jake Walter Scholarship Fund will be open to any adult graduate of Oakland schools who wants to become a firefighter and an EMT. “Because of the kind of guy Jake was, the firefighters felt compelled to support what he was about. For me, I’m not surprised,” said Skyline Head Baseball Coach James Salazar. “He was just so passionate about baseball. Always a smile on his face. When he stepped on this field, you felt his energy. He was just that kind of guy.”
Jim Whitty added that a Fire Department liaison is going to Skyline, McClymonds and other OUSD schools looking to recruit students who want to join the department and work to protect our city. “We want everybody, but we want people who were born in Oakland, raised in Oakland, to come and be a part of their community fire department.”
Oakland Unified School District told Zennie62Media it thanks the Oakland Fire Department, the Firefighters Union Local 55 and the Oakland Fire Random Acts organization for their generosity and partnership in supporting their students.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media