Cancer Society honors CSULB benefactors

Mike and Arline Walter, benefactors of Cal State Long Beach and the eponymous Pyramid, were honored at the 36th annual Long Beach Cancer League Gala on Saturday for their efforts in the fight against cancer.

The Walters were given the Long Beach Cancer League’s “Spirit of Life” award along with a certificate of recognition authorized by the Long Beach mayor and city council at the fundraising event. All proceeds went to the American Cancer Society.

The Walter Pyramid was named after the Walters in 2005 in recognition of donations to the university that totaled $2.1 million. The Walters also spearheaded a fundraising drive that raised another $1.1 million for the athletic department.

“Through your priceless advocacy of cancer research and patient services and generous support to the cause of saving lives from cancer, your compassion has touched countless people,” gala organizer Shiela Litzinger said during a speech.

In an admission that surprised even close friends, the Walters opened up publicly for the first time about Mike Walter’s battle against prostate cancer eight years ago.

While Mike Walter expressed his optimism for the future, Arline Walter spoke about the lessons she learned.

“Don’t wait until you know something is wrong,” she said. “There are opportunities for early detection. Take regular check-ups.”

Arline Walter also spoke about the importance of learning about the trade-offs between different treatments for cancer and how factors such as lifestyle and beliefs should play a role in determining which treatment to take.

“Each alternative has its pros and cons, and we realized that we had to be prepared to live with the con as well as the pro of the alternative that we picked,” she said.

In an interview with the Daily 49er, Mike Walter encouraged students to volunteer with the Long Beach Cancer League and expressed gratitude for his wife’s support and determination throughout his recovery.

“She has always been encouraging and helpful, and she’s always said we can get over this, we can handle anything,” he said.

Thomas Rhoads, a recently retired CSULB professor and close friend of the Walters, said he never knew about the cancer or the Walters’ involvement in the Cancer League until a month ago.

“This is a dimension of him that I never heard of and something that he doesn’t talk about — he doesn’t brag,” Rhoads said. “He’s a wonderful man.”

Oscar Vasquez and Viviana Cervantes were guests of the Walters at the gala.

“He’s always trying to get students to go out there and do more than the usual stuff, like just classes,” said Cervantes, a CSULB business student. “He also wants us to do these kinds of events, so I think that was the reason he invited us.”

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