VI annual Evan Walker Memorial Poker Run raises funds for special needs children in Fall River County

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star

Toni Taeker, with Pirates, happily donated her time Saturday at the Evan Walker Memorial Poker Run at the bike wash, where bikes lined up out the parking lot for a good cleaning. This year’s event had not only a bike wash but also live music with the Route 66 band, a silent and live auction and Hawaiian pulled pork sliders.


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – The 37 motorcycle-strong Evan Walker Memorial Poker Run ran through Hot Springs this past Saturday, Sept. 9, raising funds for special needs children in Fall River County. 

To date, the run in Evan’s name has raised and donated almost $18,000 for special needs children and programs in both California and South Dakota.

The Evan Walker Memorial Poker Run began of the ashes of great loss. 

Evan Walker Pilson, son of Michael Pilson of Hot Springs, suffered through his early years, not able to focus and subsequently feeling as if he was a disappointment to his teachers and his parents. He lamented at the feeling of not having friends and not being able to be a “good” kid.


His father discovered early on that if Evan were given a task, such as separating nuts and bolts, he was able to focus and was happy to have achieved a task. Eventually he wanted to help his dad working on cars, but that was later in life.

Still struggling in school, he was expelled from multiple schools before his 8th birthday. Until finally one teacher took him under her wing realizing his potential she asked his parents if they would be willing to have him tested for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). At first it was met with objections, but noting how unhappy their son was they relented. Evan was, in fact, diagnosed with ADD.

After changing his diet and creating a clear structure did not have any effect he was placed on medication.

This changed his life.

It was discovered he had a keen insight into the inner workings of motors and soon began helping his dad rebuild motors. 

He quickly began to excel in school and sports and was on the fast track to NASCAR fame earning championship titles along the way.

At the age of 19, he dreamed of enlisting in the United States Army. Concern over passing his medical while taking medications, Evan took himself off his medication without his parents’ knowledge and subsequently made an irrational decision that took his life.

Evan Walker passed away September 13, 2003, in Arizona, as a result of a high-speed motorcycle accident without a helmet. 

The poker run now being held in his honor began to raise awareness for ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and grew into recognizing the needs of all children with special needs. 

Each year funds are distributed to schools or Parent-Teacher Associations that will create a line item in their budget for the funds specifically to be used for children with special needs, be it noise cancelling headphones, wiggle seats, ergonomic pencils, or whatever will help our precious gifts to reach their full potential.

“This is such a great community,” said co-organizer Mike Pilson. “For so many to step up and donate, participate and help in so many ways, I am so thankful to everyone who made this day such an amazing success.”

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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