‘Be like Mike’: Special Agent Michael Walter’s legacy lives on at gym he helped build

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Powhatan County community mourned the loss of Special Agent Michael Walter with a prayer vigil Tuesday evening.

The vigil was held at the Blackhawk Gym and Community Fitness Center that Walter started nearly 10 years ago.

During the vigil, Walter was remembered as a coach, mentor and friend.

“He didn’t just raise wrestlers and athletes,” said a friend of Walter’s, Richard Fitzsimmons, who helped open the gym nearly a decade ago. “He created a family.”

“He didn’t just raise wrestlers and athletes. He created a family.” 

A family of wrestlers, parents, coaches, and now law enforcement.

“”We really wanted them to see the other side of Mike,” Fitzsimmons explained. “The Mike they probably heard about a lot at work but never really knew about.”

The vigil have everyone in attendance the chance to share their stories of ‘Coach Mike.’

“He was just really a big support for me through wrestling, school, through my personal life,” former Blackhawk wrestler J.D. McMillin said.

McMillin was just one of the many wrestlers who shared how ‘Coach Mike’ changed his life.

“He always drove to make an impact on someone else’s life for the better,” McMillin added.

It’s that impact that makes Walter’s death seemingly unbearable for some who struggled to hold back tears Tuesday night. But that same impact may also bring a community closer together.

“We all are going to have to lean on each other to keep his train running in the direct that he set it,” Fitzsimmons said.

Walter’s legacy will continue to live on at Blackhawk in the form of a daily challenge for the wrestlers he helped coach to ‘be like Mike.’

“How are they going to continue to make a difference, and what difference are they going to make?” Fitzsimmons added.

If you would like to make a donation to support the family of Special Agent Walter, the Virginia State Police Association asks that you do it through them at this website. 100 percent of the donation will go to his family. Be sure to write “Walter’s Family” in the comments section when donating.

Check here for more stories honoring the memory of Special Agent Michael Walter.

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