Marblehead mom and Celtics vice president Heather Walker, 52, has died after a nearly two-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
After her diagnosis, Walker and her family launched #Move4Heather, a campaign to raise awareness and funds for glioblastoma research at Dana Farber. They raised more than $640,000.
“Heather has let go and passed this morning at 5:43 a.m. She isn’t fighting anymore and can finally rest,” wrote Walker’s husband, Stephen, in a Facebook post early on April 26. “She is with so many who have gone before her that I’m sure she was welcomed with open arms. There is so much to say, but I just can’t right now. It hurts too much. I love you so much, Heather. The girls, too. Now it’s your turn to rest and be at peace.”
Walker, who has two young daughters, worked with the Celtics as vice president of public relations for 16 years before her illness, partnering with players to promote the team. When the Celtics won the NBA championship in 2008, she grew especially close with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and James Posey.
The Celtics released a statement about Walker on Wednesday. “We will miss her for her energy, the joy and laughter that followed her everywhere she went, and we are grateful for everything she provided her Celtics family and the countless people that she positively impacted along the way. Our hearts and sympathy are with Heather’s loving family and friends, whom she cherished. She will remain part of our fabric for as long as the Celtics go on.”
In addition to the Celtics, the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots shared messages about Walker on Twitter today.
“We join the New England community in mourning the passing of Heather Walker. Our thoughts are with Heather’s family, friends and the entire @celtics organization during this difficult time,” read a Patriots Tweet.
Last year, the team honored Walker as a “Hero Among Us” for her work helping others. The celebration happened at the same game when the Celtics retired Kevin Garnett’s jersey. She and her family were called down to center court.
Celtics stars also made a video for Heather last year. You can watch it HERE.
Walker met President Joe Biden last October at a cancer event in Boston. Biden’s son, Beau, also died of glioblastoma.
Outside of work, Walker enjoyed kayaking, paddle boarding, skiing and more. She kayaked from Boston to Provincetown as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge. Her longtime friend Wendy Semonian shared memories of Walker with the Current.
“Heather loved her family. She loved life,” Semonian said. “She touched so many people.”
Throughout her illness, Walker was determined to help others, encouraging people to embrace life and each other. The Move4Heather campaign asked people to do something that moved them — hiking, running, skiing, etc. — and post to social media about it with the hashtag #M4H.
“I know I’m helping people going through something terrible, and I’m not going to stop helping,” she said last year.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.