Thursday, July 17, 2014

R.I.P. James Shay Stear Swinford

Shay was a 2nd year culinary arts student at MATC, a victim of the mindless gun violence that is too prevalent in our country.  He was shot on July 8th. He died on July 12, 2014.

His death like that of any young person is a parent’s worst nightmare. 

It is reminder that for many of our students, like Shay, we are their only hope for a better future. They place their trust, fears and dreams in our hands. We and they don’t always succeed. Tragically, Shay did not. But we and they do more often than not. And all of us need to redouble our efforts in Shay’s name to help Milwaukee’s young people fulfill their potential and dreams.  
Shay is the son of Amy Stear who helped lead the successful paid sick days campaign that was eventually vetoed. 

Here is what she wrote about her son’s death:

On Tuesday, July 8th my son Shay was shot in Milwaukee.  He struggled to survive while being cared for at Froedtert Hospital for three days but finally succumbed to a massive stroke on Friday.  His father and I accepted we had to remove life support on Saturday and let him go. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I will live the rest of my life unafraid of anything because nothing can ever hurt me beyond what I can bear after experiencing this.

Shay wanted what most kids his age wanted - to have a path to a better future.  He was starting his second year at MATC in the culinary arts program.  He had wanted to be a chef since he was in grade school so this program fit his interests, his creativity and his desire to find work doing something he enjoyed.  He took school seriously and regularly called me to go over his assignments, he wanted to do well.

But he also wanted to have fun, hang out with his friends and enjoy being young.  We all know that feeling, we've all been there.  Sadly, in his case in Milwaukee that came with a real risk that was ultimately realized last Tuesday night.

I have lost my only son.  I will never get over this.  And I don't want anyone else to ever face this but I know that's not how the world works.  So we change the world.  That is on all of us, whatever way we can.

I have been asked about memorials for Shay and my suggestion is that anyone who is interested in honoring Shay and reaching other kids like him make donations of either volunteer time or financial support to Campaign Against Violence Milwaukee or Urban Underground.  Both organizations are committed to kids like Shay and their contact information can be found online.  Please remember my child and please think of all the other children who need to find a way into a peaceful, happy life.

Here is Shea's obituary that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Unknown said...

So sorry about your lost and praying for you and your family

Anonymous said...

What a terrible loss.

Unknown said...

I was one of Shay's instructors for Culinary. He was a great student. A really nice person, who laughed at his own mistakes almost as much as he laughed at mine. I felt his passion for cooking, and shared his hope for the future. I miss him.

Judy Hafeman said...

So very sorry to hear of Shay's passing.

Rita Czukas said...

My condolences.
Your loss of Shay's loss is our loss also: MATC's, Milwaukee's and beyond.
I will share this post with my Sociology's class.
I know my student do not find your son's death an unusual occurrence. How can we step out for change?
Our hope is in our students.

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