He was a bright, cheerful boy who enjoyed life to the fullest.
Wyatt was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure early in 1976, several months after his older brother Lance had been diagnosed. They spent many weeks together in the Hospital for Sick Children, having tests and dialysis. Lance had a successful transplant on October 23 after two previous transplant attempts failed (but that is another story) Wyatt received a kidney from Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 11, 1976, only six weeks after beginning his dialysis. It was a wonderful birthday present for his father. Wyatt was only three years old at the time of his transplant and quickly forgot the pain of dialysis and operations. He was a bright, cheerful boy who enjoyed life to the fullest.
Sports were a big part of Wyatt's life. The doctor's told him that he would never be able to play contact sports due to the possibility of injury to his kidney so he took up softball and then golf. He became the pitcher on his local team and spent about ten years surprising everyone with his ability despite his being very much smaller than everyone else on his team. He also became an ORSA carded umpire as soon as he was old enough to qualify. I was recently told of an incident when a visiting coach showed concern about the little guy (Wyatt) behind the home plate. The convenor told him to register a protest and to go ahead and play the game; if he still had concerns when the game was over the protest would be filed. Wyatt's composure, knowledge of the game and ability to make the close calls without hesitation won over the coach - the protest was dropped. Wyatt continued to play softball until he began highschool; at that time he recognized that everyone was just getting too much bigger than he was. He turned to golf.
When Wyatt was eight his grandparents gave him golf lessons for Christmas. He received new golf clubs from his parents and took his lessons at Victoria Park Golf Club East. Wyatt discovered his life's passion. At age thirteen he got a job in the back shop at the Victoria Park West Golf Club and was able to play free golf as part of the perks of his job. He was runner-up junior club champion three times. He played in the Spalding Junior tour and other local events. One of his achievements was a hole-in-one scored at his home club. When we read that golf was one of the events being played at the World Transplant Games in Singapore Wyatt was intrigued. We soon learned that he was too late to participate in the World Games, but that the U.S. Games in Indianapolis would be coming up soon. Wyatt and his parents and younger sister spent a wonderful four days at these games. We met many people who also had transplants like Wyatt, including Gloria Santini who shared a birthday and transplant anniversary with Wyatt. Wyatt won a gold medal in his age group and had the thrill of meeting Carl Lewis, who presented it to him. He was now keen to attend the next world games at Budapest, Hungary. Wyatt's father secured sponsors to help pay for his trip and Wyatt headed off to Budapest in 1991. It was probably the highlight of his life. He played very well, and after some confusion about the medals, was awarded a bronze medal, which we proudly display in our home. Wyatt would have liked to participate at Vancouver, but the funds were not available as he was beginning college in the fall of that year. He would look forward to the games in Manchester, England in 1995. Wyatt attended Seneca College in the Golf Course Technician program. He took a co-op placement at the Guelph Country Club and looked forward to working there after graduation. Lance had agreed to go to Manchester with him in August. Life was looking good.
Sadly, Wyatt died suddenly of an aortic aneurism the day of his first final exam at College. He would never set foot on the golf course again. His brother, Lance, did go to Manchester and to Sydney, Australia and the whole family will be going to Sherbrooke, Quebec for the Canadian Transplant Games. Please say hello if you see us there.
As a tribute to Wyatt and his love of the game we honour his memory with an annual golf tournament. The proceeds of this tournament go to the Guelph Wish Fund for Children and the Canadian Transplant Association. Lance and Wyatt were granted their wish to see a hockey game and meet the players when they were about twelve and fourteen. They never forgot that wish and have helped raise money for the Guelph Wish Fund for Children ever since. In 1998 we added the Canadian Transplant Association to receive proceeds. We think Wyatt would approve.
By Diane Tyszka