Grimaldi's Parent Appreciation Award winner profile: El Paso Eastwood High School's Mona Walker and JoAnn Torres

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As graduates of El Paso Eastwood High School, Mona Walker and JoAnn Torres have always had a place for the school in their hearts. So it’s no surprise that, as their children went to the school, they stepped up as volunteers.

“We both went to Eastland,” Torres said, “and we want our children to have what they need to enjoy this experience. We want to support Coach [Julio] Lopez on his mission to make football as close as we can to a college experience for these boys.”

Walker, who has been the booster club president for two years, and Torres have each had multiple children take part in the program. Walker joined the club nine years ago when her oldest son got to Eastwood. Torres has spent six years in the club, first supporting her son, who graduated in 2017, and now her daughter, who is one of the team’s managers.

“After my son graduated, I sort of ‘volun-told’ my daughter that she would be a manager,” Torres said. “So she’s part of the program now, and I am too. For her, I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved in something after school and learn how things work.”

Both Walker and Torres would have joined the booster club regardless, but Walker said she joined as soon as her oldest son reached high school after seeing the other parents in action.

“It was a close-knit group of parents who wanted a great experience for our boys,” Walker said. “It’s really gratifying to me. We aren’t Dallas or Houston where there are big groups supporting the team. We have 20-25 members and we all work hard to make sure our boys have the best experience.”

The booster club does all it can throughout the year to raise money through sponsorships, donations and a fundraising golf tournament in the spring. The club also organizes team events such as weekly dinners, provides snacks and amenities for road trips and staffs the stores and concession stands at the stadium during games.

The effort can seem all-consuming at times, but Walker said the price is worth the payoff for the team.

“We want these kids to have the best and enjoy their time,” she said. “We don’t want families to worry about their kids and what the need to be safe or successful. These boys are everything. Everything we do is for them.”

It’s the least they can do, Torres said, but not just for her own children who’ve been part of the program.

“You back your kids 100 percent as long as they are doing what they enjoy,” she said. “We want to do that for all the boys. I am blessed because I have the time to donate to the program and to be there for whoever needs it. I know others are not as lucky, so I want to be there to be that familiar face for anyone in the program who needs it.”

Walker agreed. The call to support your children is powerful, but the call gets much louder when parents realize exactly how much the coaching staff cares – and does – for the players.

“I think our boys are blessed,” Walker said. “We have a group of young coaches who truly care. They prove that every week. These coaches are very close to all of these boys, and that makes us want to help them out even more.”

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