By Tamas Mondovics

Friends along with members of the community have quickly responded to the call to show their support, prayers and financial assistance for one local family facing a difficult challenge or what most would call, “a parent’s worst nightmare.” Kenny and Amy Guenst of Valrico are fighting a battle to save their 2-year-old son, Luke, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

According to Tricia Campbell, a family friend and organizer to raise funds and support for the family, little Luke began experiencing cold-like symptoms earlier this summer, which led the family to the pediatrician, resulting in subsequent blood tests that revealed a high white blood cell count.

Within a week Luke was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and began chemotherapy launching the Guenst’s long, arduous battle, hardly possible to endure without the generosity of a caring community.

Adding to the challenges facing the family at the time was the birth of Luke’s perfectly healthy little sister Layah, less than a week following the news of her brother’s illness.

Luke has contracted an infection, potentially very dangerous to the baby, as well as himself. Due to the infection, Amy was unable to be at Luke’s bedside for a time and had  to stay home caring for the new baby, leaving Kenny to attend to his son, resulting in missing work in the process.

“Kenny was at Luke’s bedside since he was admitted to the hospital and is caring for Luke full-time at the hospital,” Campbell said. “The hospitalization and separation of their family was difficult for everyone.”

As the Guensts are facing many unpredictable expenses, including the loss of income due to Luke’s illness, the need for financial support to help with costs incurred from travel, medical, as well as daily living, the family is seeking the community’s help.

“This is a life changing event,” Kenny said. Today, a trip to the hospital is a routine almost daily occurrence, but Kenny emphasized that to deal with it all he and Amy take it one-day-at-a-time.

“We are trying to enjoy the good days, while we don’t take the time with our son for granted,” he said.

Appreciating the support so far, Kenny spoke highly of the generosity by local business and members of the community including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Fire Rescue Foundation.  For more information about Luke and to support the family, visit

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