Raising a Kid-ney

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”

—William Shakespeare

Story contributed by Jimmy Sheils.

raising a kid

Jim going out for a surf shortly after his 76th birthday, with his son, Jimmy, 2010

Raising kids is tough business.
Any dad can identify.

Growing up without a dad is tough business.
Any kid can identify.

What would a dad do to save the life of his son?

What would a son do to save the life of his dad?
Read this letter from Jimmy to his father. You’ll understand. Jimmy Sheils is the son. Jim the dad. Dad faced a life-threatening crisis.

Dear Dad,

raising a kid

Jimmy on the beach with Dad, 1974

Many years ago, a little boy was standing in the living room of his tiny Bronx apartment, staring at his father, who was wrapped in blankets, sitting quietly in his rocking chair. He was very sick and did not have long to live.The man explained to his son that he loved him very much, but he would be going away soon. He didn’t want to and he would miss his son very much, but there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

He then asked his son to promise him — once he was gone, he would take care of his mother and help watch over the rest of the family. Without hesitation, the little boy promised that he would.

Those were his father’s last words. Jimmy’s letter continues…

raising a kid

1983 Yankee game — Jimmy (front) with Dad and little brother.


That little boy from the Bronx kept his promise. He helped his mother live well into her 90s. When his only brother and only sister died unexpectedly at young ages, he took care of his nieces and nephews in their absence. And when he grew up and had a family of his own, that little boy carried his promise forward into their lives as well…Dad, as you know, you were the little boy in this story. This is a memory you’ve shared with me only once. Still, it is something I have never forgotten.

A few years ago, Jim needed a kidney. Jimmy was an exact match. Remarkable dads make remarkable kids…

Today is the day of our kidney transplant surgery…

You stood alone at the age of 6. This defines your character, your strength, and your integrity. Your father would be very proud of you. There is nothing in this world that could have stopped me from standing by you today in your time of need.

You need a kidney? I got your back.

I love you dad,


The surgery was successful. Jimmy gave up a kidney to gain more years with his dad. It’s not only a testament to a brave and devoted son — it’s a story about a dad who brought his son up right.

Jimmy Sheils is co–founder of ‘Board Meetings,’ a company that helps parents connect with their children through experiential education — most notably surfing excursions (hence the name “Board” Meetings). He advocates this deeper parent/child relationship through his powerful “3 Steps to Connection” talks around the country as well.

Jimmy is an avid surfer and enjoys traveling and spending quality time with family and friends. He has a beautiful wife, Jamie, and two boys, Alden & Leland.

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