Maroon and white were replaced with solid blue Friday as the Dukes community paid tribute to Drew Guyer on what would have been his Senior Night as a member of the Class of 2018.
Parents Tom and Brandi Guyer were handed flowers by Wellington football players before kickoff and recollected ways Wellington residents have aided them since tragedy struck their family.
Drew, a soccer and basketball player at McCormick Middle School, died Dec. 17, 2013, after collapsing during an open gym session. An undetected heart arrhythmia was later determined to be the cause.
“We’ve said before that this community is incredible,” said his father, Tom. “Our strength comes from them. It comes from people like Dan Gundert and Andrew Lara. They’ve always made sure we’ve been incorporated and part of something special. We’re honored. It’s hard to come out here but we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“The fact that Drew is acknowledged means the world to us,” said his mother, Brandi. “One of the biggest fears of a parent who loses a child is that the child will be forgotten. This community has made it very clear that he isn’t forgotten.”
The Wellington Fullbackers Club raised approximately $1,000 leading up to Friday through the sale of “Blue for Drew” T-shirts. Both parents mentioned that group, the Wellington Soccer Association, and “blue outs” at WHS basketball games as gestures that stand out to them over the past four years.
Proceeds from the T-shirts will be donated to the Drew Guyer Foundation, which has helped the Wellington Schools purchase materials such as 55-inch LED screens and a new scorer’s table for the WHS gymnasium. An annual golf outing is held by the foundation every August.
“The soccer association came through with the memorial garden at the rec park,” Brandi said. “It’s just non-stop with how they’ve helped us.”
Before he was Drew’s basketball coach, Dan Gundert was his third grade teacher at Westwood Elementary School.
“The strength Tom and Brandi show is amazing for all of us to see,” he said. “They help all of us out so much. Tom volunteers on my coaching staff and he’s there every day. Drew was a great kid and always full of laughs. He was just very bright. He was raised the right way by his parents.”
WHS senior Andrew Dooley recalled what it felt like to learn of his best friend’s sudden passing.
“In the summer between between seventh and eighth grade, me, Drew, and Parker Rieske spent pretty much every day at each other’s houses,” he said. “That Tuesday, Drew and I talked in the hallway right before open gym. We ran sprints and he collapsed. I woke up to a text from Parker the next day asking if I’d heard. Without even knowing what he meant yet, I had a terrible gut feeling.”
“My parents got the call the night before but they didn’t want to tell me and have me not fall asleep that night,” he added. “When I found out, I didn’t want to just sit at home. I went to school and everyone grew a lot closer that day.”
Even in the face of strong support from friends and family, Tom Guyer said he and Brandi will be “day-to-day for the rest of their lives.”
“Nobody’s grief is the same,” he said. “There’s no time frame on grief and no two people grieve the same way. No one should ever feel they have to get over something or enough time has passed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. You control your own destiny once you realize it’s your grief and yours alone. Once you grasp that, it helps you start to navigate through it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.