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Remember the days of high school when everyone wore the school colors, there was a pep rally the day of a big game and everyone went to the game to cheer on the home team to show their school spirit? Magnify that kind of spirit and you'll have an idea of what our annual Spirit of Walton celebration is all about. It's a time each year when the whole team — the Walton family — comes together to celebrate each other, to celebrate accomplishments and to celebrate all the great things that have happened in our communities over the past year — and to look forward to what the new year holds.

There's plenty of ramped up music. There's lots of good food and an over-abundance of energy in the room. There's a feeling of belonging. It's such an amazing feeling, knowing that this group of people share a common goal — providing legendary service to our residents and creating neighborhoods where people thrive. Neighborhoods that matter. And, in the process, we realize that we all matter. Those who clean the breezeways matter. Those who get the applications processed quickly matter. Those who help people find their perfect home matter. Those who provide events and fun matter. And our residents matter, too. Without them, there would be no neighborhoods, and there would be no stories…stories like the young man in his mid-30's who called one of our owners from California (now a successful businessman) to express his appreciation for the special memories he had made growing up as a "Walton kid". Or the story from several years ago about a young woman whose husband was deployed overseas. She was pregnant and didn't have any family nearby. She asked one of the leasing consultants if she would go with her when she went to the hospital. When labor began, this leasing consultant not only accompanied the woman to the hospital, she went into the delivery room as her coach, and even cut the cord when the baby was born, making her forever a part of that young family.

There are lots more stories like those, but you get the idea. For those of us who work at Walton, this isn't just a job. It's part of our lives. Many of us have been with the company for many years, watching it grow. Several of our children and even our grandchildren have worked here, too.

This year, at the Spirit of Walton, we talked a lot about the 3-G's — Generational, Generosity and the Golden Rule. When you live a 3-G life, all those facets are intertwined. Families grow up here (generational). We are generous to one another and to others. Our culture empowers us to do the right thing. We enjoy sharing life with our residents and seek to follow the Golden Rule in all that we do.

We love the stories. We love that we have a history with so many of our residents. We love that what we do matters. So, even though another Spirit of Walton celebration has come and gone, the big game isn't over. We all still wear our Walton colors (our uniforms). We all still love a pep rally (resident events) and we all still cheer each other on. WE'VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO!

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