Phil Catalli & Lee Walton
Founders of Palm Springs Front Runners and Walkers
When Phil Catalli and Lee Walton met in the San Francisco Bay area in 1995, there was an immediate connection that has lasted ever since. They were legally married in July 2008 in San Francisco. While living in the Bay Area, they were members of the Bayland Frontrunners in Palo Alto. In January 1997, they relocated to Palm Springs and found there were no organized athletic, healthful organizations for the LGBT community. Thus, the idea was born to organize a chapter of the Frontrunners here in Palm Springs.
On March 1, 1997, after contacting the local media and handing out fliers and pamphlets throughout the city, Phil and Lee waited in the parking lot of the Mizell Senior Center, the scheduled meeting place, for the hordes of those interested to arrive. Alas, no one arrived! After 6 weeks of loneliness someone finally did show up. Since then the hordes have arrived, and the club has had approximately 2,000 members over the years.
PSFR&W was initially founded to promote fitness and social activities, but early on Phil and Lee decided that the club should be philanthropic as well. The idea was to give back to the community, and give back the club did. Over the years the club has been a major player in giving to local non-profit organizations. The club has held many charitable events, including an annual Pride Run and Walk that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars going to local organizations. Some of the organizations and groups that were designated beneficiaries have been Desert AIDS Project, AIDS Assistance Program, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Animal Samaritans, Gay Associated Youth, Mizell Senior Center, Desert Winds Freedom Band, PFLAG, The LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and many more. Under the guidance of Phil and Lee, a tradition of being leaders in fundraising for the annual AIDS Walk was established. PSFR&W teams have been among the top fund-raising teams, including once being the top team, raising more than $16,000.
Phil and Lee were inducted into the Rainbow Foundation Hall of Fame as outstanding community leaders. The Palm Springs Gay Veterans awarded them the outstanding community service award. PSFR&W was designated as Community Organization of the Year by the Desert Business Association, and was presented the prestigious “Star” award, given by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) for financial support. When they stepped down from the leadership of the club in 2007, they were presented with a Certificate of Recognition by the Mayor of Palm Springs for Outstanding Community Service.
In 2011, Phil and Lee were selected as Community Grand Marshals for the Palm Springs Pride parade and celebration. That same year they also instituted an annual presentation of their "Founders Award" to long-time club members who have devoted a great deal of their time and effort on behalf of the club.