Walter Rudy was many things. He was a juggler, a triathlete, an inline skater, a skier, a snowshoer, a cyclist and runner. He was a husband and father. He was a fighter.
But most of all, Walter Rudy was a friend.
Rudy died of cancer last week at the age of 52 surrounded by friends and family. His friends, those who did everything they could to take care of him in his last few months, aren't quite ready to let him go yet. Therefore, they are holding a benefit from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Saturday Dec. 23 at Sertino's Caf (c), 105 First St., Liverpool. The benefit will allow Rudy's friends to reminisce about him and will also raise money for a park bench at Onondaga Lake Park to memorialize him.
"He was always at the park," said cousin Chris Parent. "As long as I can remember, if you wanted Walt, you went to the park to find him."
That's why a bench with a plaque with Rudy's name seems such a fitting tribute. Tickets for the benefit are on sale now at Sertino's. They cost $12 in advance or $14 at the door. The benefit will feature food, a 50/50 raffle, raffles with prizes from local merchants, a visit from Santa Claus and live music from Rudy's brother Andy. For more information, contact Parent at 480-4315.
Organizers of the benefit expect a good turnout. Walt Rudy was well-liked and well known in the community, and many people are interested in honoring his memory. His wake at Maurer's in the village drew over 500 mourners. Parent said his personality made everyone want to be his friend.
"If you needed help, he was the first one there," she said. "Even when he was sick, he would do anything for anybody. He couldn't accept help. He said, 'I don't get help, I give it.'"