A local father's promise to carry on his son's legacy - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

A local father's promise to carry on his son's legacy

Posted: Updated:
WHITEWATER (AP) - WHITEWATER (WKOW) -- As a child in Northern Ireland, Tony Guinn dreamed of making a living in the game of soccer. The former UW-Platteville player made that dream a reality by becoming the head coach at Division I Western Illinois in 2007.

"The first season in Division I, we went 16-3. So, it was truly a dream come true."

That professional dream quickly gave way to a personal nightmare.

"Shaymus was playing soccer and he was limping, and we didn't really know why. They did an X-Ray and then they wanted to do a MRI. Most of the time you have to wait to get in for a MRI, but they did it immediately. It lasted two hours. Then, the doctor said, 'I think your son has some form of a bone cancer.'"

Guinn's young son was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in the fall of 2008. For the next few years, Tony commuted eight hours roundtrip to visit his son at the hospital in Milwaukee.
"I think in 2009, the cost was about $19,000 in gas. In 2010, I spent $21,000 in gas and got an oil change every Friday."

In the spring of 2012, Guinn gave up his Division I job to accept the head coaching position at Division III UW-Whitewater. The move was designed to give him more time with Shaymus, but time was not on their side. Shaymus died later that year on December 19th. The 11-year old gave his father one last request. He wanted to make sure every kid in the hospital had a Christmas present.
"'Knowing that I might not be there on Christmas, you have to do this for me.' So, I kept my word. Each month, I take toys to Children's Hospital in Milwaukee to this day."

Amidst their pain, the Guinn family found new purpose...carrying on Shaymus' legacy of giving. Shaymus' grandmother started the 'Shaymus Guinn Foundation'. Tony Guinn says the foundation donated between $15,000-20,000 in the first year to families with children that are fighting cancer.

"If we can help them in any way, that would have made Shaymus very happy."

UW-Whitewater is also carrying on Shaymus' legacy with the 'Shaymus Guinn Cup.' The first game was played against Tony's old school, UW-Platteville. The Warhawks won in the final second on a game-winning goal.

"Rightfully so, we won it in his honor."

Even on the soccer field, Shaymus is never far from his dad's mind.

"I'm not even remotely the same person I used to be. I was this very intense, ruthless, win-at-all-costs type of person, type of coach. Now, I am completely the opposite."

Guinn says the players really do feel like family now. He's hoping to pass on to them the knowledge he learned from the greatest teacher of his life.
"What I think he taught me and teaches people is don't take each day for granted and try and accomplish things each day. Try to make the world a better place each day. He really was an 11-year old going on 45. He was like that great uncle. He was like that awesome grandpa and he was an 11-year-old child.... my son."

Shaymus touched many with his giving spirit and his art. You can see some of Shaymus' artwork on the 'Shaymus Guinn Foundation' website at http://shaymusguinnfoundation.org/.

Most Viewed Content

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WKOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Anna Engelhart at 608-661-2767. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.